© 2019 by Steven J. Lee, M.D. 

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Does it really matter which surgeon I go to?  Why should I choose Dr. Steven Lee?

There is a misconception that because the training of surgeons is very rigorous, that as long as the surgeon is board certified, that surgeon must be competent.  That literally couldn't be further from the truth!  The fact is, it is pretty difficult for the lay person to know who is actually an exceptional surgeon.   You might be surprised how many "big name" surgeons there are who have made a name for themselves by publishing tons of research, and actually can't operate themselves out of a barn.  You might also be surprised how many surgeons "look" the part, who are gifted speakers, and just seem like nice, trustworthy people who would've been much better served as a politician or a businessperson.  Every year we graduate orthopedic residents and fellows, and there are distinct differences.  Some we would trust to operate on ourselves, some we know will be "just fine", others we have our reservations.

 

This is because so many different skill sets factor into becoming a good orthopedic surgeon.  Orthopedic surgery after all is as much a skill and art as it is a science.  While there are exceptions to every rule, you would probably not want a brainy nerd who happened to be uncoordinated and couldn't handle pressure to be your orthopedic surgeon.  Ideally, you would want someone reasonably smart, who engaged in sports and other activities involving their hands, who went through a respected and preferably tough residency program, who then specialized in a fellowship, who can handle pressure and make quick decisions on the fly, someone who fell in love with their specialty and the concept of helping others, who continued to be tested and challenged throughout his career in order to keep up with the ever-changing medical environment, someone who strives for excellence in whatever they do, and maybe as a bonus, someone who was actually also a nice person.  

 

Dr. Steven Lee is a true surgeon down to the core.  He is double fellowship trained in Hand/Upper Extremity and Sports Medicine.  He became the Chief of Hand and Upper Extremity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital at the age of 41 and became the Associate Director of the Nicholas Institute for Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at the age of 36.  He has garnered pretty much every medical award multiple times that can be bestowed to a doctor including Castle Connolly's Top Doctor, New York Magazine's Best Doctor, US News and World Report Top Doctor, America's Top Orthopedists, and the Hall of Fame New York Super Doctors.  However, the award he is most proud of is the Teacher/Mentor of the Year award that he has earned 7 times, an award given by the residents at Lenox Hill Hospital, chosen among over 100 orthopedic surgeons on staff at Lenox Hill Hospital.  His constant striving for excellence is evidenced by the fact that he earned his 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo at the age of 44, was a  tennis club champion, maintains a single digit golf handicap, but most cherishes the fact that he has won the 2016 World Invitational Father Daughter Golf Championship as well as the 2018 World Invitational Father Son Golf Championships in Waterville, Ireland.  Dr. Steven Lee's passion for orthopaedic surgery is demonstrated by his research endeavors, has over 50 publications or presentations at national meetings and is invited to speak and instruct courses all over the country.  He is a surgeon is the truest sense of the word.

Does Dr. Steven Lee perform his own surgeries?

Some patients have heard that there are doctors that let others perform their surgeries for them, especially those that are in training.  Dr. Lee takes pride in performing his own surgeries!  While he does train Orthopedic surgery residents and fellows, they are there to learn from him in an observational role, not to perform the actual surgery.  This is his own private practice, not a faculty practice or academic practice, he does not take any pleasure in having others perform surgeries on his own patients. 

I really don't want surgery, should I be seeing an Orthopaedic Surgeon?

First of all, there's really no one that we know of that actually wants surgery!  Many patients believe that because our title has the word surgeon in it, that all we are going to do is recommend surgery.  The fact is that on average greater than 90% of the patients that are seen in consultation will not require or be offered surgery.   Rest assured, surgeons are trained to treat every diagnosis with non-operative treatments if possible, and only recommend surgery either as a last resort, or only if surgery would offer a distinct benefit over non-operative treatment. 

What factors affect my treatment results?

Many different factors are involved in determining your overall result whether you are treated nonoperatively or operatively.

Why is my surgeon delayed?

We know your time is valuable and no one likes to wait!  While we try our best to try to stay on time and keep on schedule, the nature of surgical medicine does not necessarily lend itself to being able to predict how long each consultation or surgery will be as in many other fields of medicine.  Our number one priority is to give each patient the highest level of healthcare by giving our undivided and complete attention as well as a chance to have all their questions answered.  New patients and those patients who have been told that they would benefit from surgery typically require much more explanations and answers to their questions.  We cannot control which of those patients might require extra time.  We honestly find it curious that people will have no problems waiting for an hour or more for a busy restaurant, a popular show or a delayed plane, and yet become indignant when their surgeon delays them.  There are many benefits from seeing a busy orthopedic surgeon, a specialty where the number of "flight hours" the surgeon has accrued makes a world of difference.  If you're primary concern is to make sure you are not delayed for your appointment, we might suggest you see non-busy orthopedic surgeon, who is most likely not busy for a reason. 

Why was my visit so short?

Interestingly we have also been asked why their visit was shorter than expected.  To a certain extent, everyone's expectations can be different.  We have had patients who we've exhausted every possible discussion with who did not feel in their own minds that we spent enough time, and vice versa.  The fact is that some diagnoses and treatments sometimes can be done very quickly either because the diagnosis was so obvious, or the experience of the surgeon who has seen your diagnosis a  hundred times may seem quick since it was unique to you.  If for whatever reason you feel that your appointment was too quick , please feel free to ask any and all questions that you might have. 

Do I need an MRI?

Because of what some patients might read or see on TV, we have patients who come into their appointment demanding an MRI.  If there is any reason that Dr. Steven Lee think you would benefit from an MRI, he will likely order one.  He has no particular reason to restrict you from getting an MRI.  However, it is important to note that many times not only are MRI's not necessary, but they may be the wrong test for your specific diagnosis.   

Are too many X-rays dangerous for my body? How about MRI, CAT scan, ultrasound?

How dangerous are X-rays?  We've been asked this many times before.  X-rays do entail the use of radiation, but the amount of radiation you receive from modern xray machines is very minimal. Natural background radiation exposure (radiation people are normally exposed to by being on Earth) accounts for an average of 3.1 mSv/yr with variations depending on where you live. In the US.  For comparison, a standard Chest X-ray is 0.1 mSv, so it is very low compared to the radiation you are getting normally.  However, in general we would never recommend an X-ray unless we thought it was necessary. It is important to realize that in a properly performed individual exam, the potential health benefits almost always outweigh the potential risks of radiation exposure. Simply put, patients should not hesitate having a study if it is medically indicated.  Please let the X-ray technician know if you are pregnant, and use a lead shield whenever possible.

 

MRI's use magnets to produce an image.  There is no radiation whatsoever.  In general they are considered safe.  However, if there is metal inside your for whatever reason, including pacemakers, there may be contraindications for its use for you, so please let your physician and radiologic technician know.

 

CAT Scans however do require radiation at a much higher rate than an X-ray does.  The dose for a standard Chest CT is 7 mSv, so just over double the amount of radiation compared to background radiation that you normally get in a year.  Again, CAT scans are only ordered when they are considered to be necessary, or at least the benefit of which would far outweigh any risk. 

 

Ultrasound utilizes sound waves to produce an image.  This is also considered safe under pretty much most conditions.

What is the role of the Physician assistant (PA)?

Physician Assistants are highly trained professionals!

Why do I need medical clearance for my surgery?

Medical clearance is a necessary component of your surgery if you are either over the age of 50 yrs old or have medical conditions that might be of concern.

Does it matter where I have my surgery and who the rest of my operative staff are, especially the anesthesiologist?

Yes it matters!  

What factors can make my incision look better?

Some patients ask whether or not it would be beneficial to have a plastic surgeon close their incision.  You are definitely entitled to do that if you like.  However, believe it or not, we utilize the exact same techniques to close your incisions as the plastic surgeons do.

 

There are multiple reasons why an incision can heal nicer than others.  Some factors that contribute include where the incision is, the body's inherent healing and scar formation capacity, and other factors not necessarily under your control or the surgeon's control.  For example those incisions that cross the joint or are closer to the joint tend to heal less well because the skin is stretched back and forth during the healing process.  Some patients produce more scar tissue that others, something that is not in your control and is probably genetically determined.  Those that produce more scar tissue tend to have wider and less attractive scars.  Some patients even produce excessive scar tissue causing the scar to not only be wider, but also be raised.  This is called a Keloid.  While this is also more or less genetically determined, patients of Asian and African descent, those with a history of Dupuytren's Disease, and those with a previous history of Keloids are more prone to getting Keloids.  Also, some patients have more mobile skin than others, and these patients tend to have better looking incisions because there is less tension on the incision.

 

There are some things you can do to try and improve on your incision's appearance.