“When it comes to LASIK, the only thing that matters is the experience of the surgeon.” US News & World Report – Feb 2007

Experience Counts

LASIK in the right hands and using modern technology consistently produces 20/20 vision or better, but this outcome depends entirely on the expertise and care of the surgeon who performs the procedure.

The baseline for an ‘experienced’ LASIK surgeon is usually considered to be around 5,000 procedures personally performed. The key word there is ‘personally’. The more procedures the better, of course, and some surgeons have personally performed tens of thousands of procedures.

This fact sometimes becomes clouded when large chains advertise tens of thousands of procedures performed under their corporate logo – not by the specific surgeon who will perform your LASIK.

How does this happen? Simply, it means the surgeon for the large chain has been hired to move from state to state, city to city, performing procedures arranged by a local branch office. There can be many of these roaming surgeons, each performing fewer procedures individually than an independent local surgeon, yet collectively it could be claimed the chain itself has performed upwards of 40,000.

Here are a few questions that deserve answers:

  • How long has the doctor been performing LASIK and how many LASIK procedures has he personally performed? The answer should be at least 3-4 years and not less than 1000-2000 procedures.
  • How long has he been working with the exact lasers he will use for your procedure? The answer should be convincing. One point you should know is that roaming surgeons for big chains fly in from out of town and meet up with the staff operating the laser on the day of the procedure. Not a very comforting thought as it means the surgeon does not become familiar with his equipment.
  • What local patients have had the procedure from this specific surgeon? This relates to verifying the surgeon’s skill. Testimonials are great evidence of successful procedures – but they should name that doctor – not the corporation – and not only speak in general terms of LASIK itself without reference to the surgeon.

The answers to these questions should be available in the promotional or educational materials the center provides, and on the center’s website. But they should also be verified face-to-face with the surgeon. If you can’t meet the surgeon who will perform your procedure during the Consultation and exam process because he’s not in town that’s an answer right there. Act accordingly.