Many fertility doctors and clinics feel that they must resort to using some sort of gimmick or guarantee to attract patients and increase the business for their vasectomy reversal clinic. They do this in the hopes that most prospective patients will know little about vasectomy reversal and will be drawn to them by attractive marketing.
What is a bit frightening is that a large number of patients don’t see through these marketing ploys. It is amazing how many urologists have begun advertising vasectomy reversal services on the Internet or offering “money-back guarantees” in the last seven years since we went on-line with one of the original vasectomy reversal websites (we were one of the first clinics to educate patients via the web).
Clearly, a busy vasectomy reversal practice can be lucrative, and urologists who have no or little training in microsurgery have posted websites claiming to be experts. One vasectomy reversal surgeon even admits that his training was a one-week course in microsurgery. Of course he charges a very low fee to perform the surgery in his office.
We have decided to include a section to inform and educate patients on what to look for, and what is fact and medicine, versus misleading marketing. We will give you some insight on how to read between the lines. There are no governing bodies that insure that websites adhere to ethical standards or demonstrate integrity, and no medical societies police the Internet for incorrect medical information. Anybody can make any claim on a website!
Every patient should know that there is more than one expert doctor in the United States that can reverse a vasectomy and do a great job. There is no single best vasectomy reversal surgeon who is above all the others, but there are a handful of highly-trained and highly-regarded microsurgeons who are the nation’s leaders in the field of vasectomy reversal procedures. This is the top tier of vasectomy reversal surgeons who have recognized superior skill and training and have dedicated their careers to performing microsurgical reversals. The criteria and characteristics that enable a physician to be a top-tier microsurgeon are as follows:
Microsurgery can’t be learned on one’s own and there are a limited number of fellowships in the country that teach the basics. Very few urologists each year go through and finish a one-year microsurgical fellowship. This is the first criterion to start with. If the doctor you are considering hasn’t completed a fellowship in infertility, you should look elsewhere.
For a surgeon to become truly expert in a procedure, he or she must constantly practice and improve on the basic skills acquired during the fellowship and become comfortable doing the surgery on his own. During the fellowship, microsurgical skills are learned through assisting another “mentoring” surgeon. Doctors in fellowship training don’t perform vasectomy reversal surgery by themselves.
To get the needed experience and know how to handle all the different scenarios that can arise during a reversal, the vasectomy reversal surgeon needs to have performed hundreds or better yet, thousands of vasectomy reversals. Then to maintain skills the surgeon needs to perform at minimum several microsurgical procedures every week. This is the thing that separates the experts from those that just dabble, even if they are fellowship-trained. It is said that to be a true expert in any field, one needs to have spent at least 10,000 hours practicing their craft.
The number of vasectomy reversal surgeons in the top tier with both the training and experience is probably less than ten in the United States.
The reason that there are only a few top-level vasectomy reversal surgeons is that there just are not that many patients who need reversals to keep all the doctors who want to do reversals busy enough to limit their practice to just microsurgery. The busy vasectomy reversal doctors get a good reputation, and they continue to get busier. There is then a second and third tier of surgeons that probably numbers ten to twenty.
The goal here is not to publicize or list specific vasectomy reversal doctors, but rather to give you the tools and insight to help you educate yourselves. Please do the research so you can make a decision about the doctors you choose. Be skeptical, ask questions and get referrals from satisfied patients, other doctors or nurses. Check reputations and do your homework!
Microsurgery is a skill, an art form and a talent. Some people are more talented and skilled than others. No matter how much training they have they just can’t get it. Why do some musicians or artists become masters and others with the same level of training and dedication not reach the same heights professionally? Talent – it is something a person is born with.
This is something to be demanded of from anyone you entrust to care for your health and reproductive future, certainly from anyone you will let perform surgery on you.