by Alex Vitruk, LSN Editor
Our exclusive interview with Dr. Jim Irwin, DVM reveals how the successful combination of clinical excellence and state-of-the-art 30-watt CO2 laser technology can greatly improve your bottom line
Just minutes before our interview, Dr. Irwin removed a meibomian gland tumor from the lower eyelid of a 16-year old dog. “12 minutes is all it took!” the doctor exclaims. “You just can’t do that kind of procedure with a
scalpel or any other technology. Of course, you can do it with a less powerful CO2 laser and still achieve the minimal hemorrhage, less pain, less bleeding, faster post-op, all of those crucial benefits… it’s just that all of these things are emphatically underscored with the new machine.”
Dr. Irwin first started with a Luxar 12-watt LP laser in 1997, and then upgraded to the Luxar 20-watt SP laser several years later. In 2009, the doctor traded in his SP for the new Aesculight 30-watt system, the latest upgrade to the Luxar / Accuvet family. I immediately asked the doctor, “so what makes laser surgery so ‘emphatically underscored’ – as you put it – with this new system?” He prefaced his answer by commenting upon its vast improvements in the ‘ease of use’ category, citing the touch-screen control panel, built-in clinical library, new user interface and customizable program settings as the most significant user-friendly advancements: “the usability of the new program settings is wonderful – I can now save my preferred laser settings every time,” the doctor explained. But the enhanced cutting power and the forced air cooling system signify the main reasons Dr. Irwin has upgraded to Aesculight…
“Doing procedures which require heavy on-time, procedures where you’re going, going, going… it’s such an advantage to be able to go to a higher power and reduce procedure time. Likewise, the improved cooling system enables me to never again have to deal with over-heating, having to turn the laser off to let it cool down…”
“But how do such improvements justify the extra worth of an upgrade to Aesculight’s 30-watt laser system?” I inquired.
“It’s absolutely worth it to go extra and have a high-powered machine”, Dr. Irwin began. “In terms of less operating time, less anesthesia time, less doctor time, less staff time… you bring in a lot more than what you paid for.”
On the subject of ROI, Dr. Irwin has written multiple articles over the years to assist his colleagues in successfully incorporating laser surgery into their practices. In ‘Do I Need a Laser? My Clients said WOW!’, the doctor cited a strong marketing program and a multi-level fee structure as his two critical keys to success. In our interview, Dr. Irwin emphasized the point that “marketing the laser requires a full staff effort… it’s important that your support staff understands the benefits of laser surgery, are excited about it, help with it… like wearing ‘Ask me about laser surgery!’ buttons!” The doctor also mentioned that, as one expands the amount of procedures performed with laser, “you then start leaving a good financial trail, you keep building on that, and pretty soon you’ll pay off the laser. Laser surgery enables you to do a better job, get a reputation in your neighborhood, get referrals…”
I also inquired about the doctor’s perceived differences between flexible waveguide technology and articulated arm equipment. “You know, I’ve held an articulated arm before, and I only imagined what that would be like… I’m so much happier with the Aesculight: it’s strong, durable, flexible…” he says.
Dr. Irwin uses his Aesculight 30/20 CO2 surgical laser every day at his two-doctor practice. “We often use it for outpatient procedures… not always for elective procedures, but all soft- tissue procedures –
anything hemorrhagic – we do with laser”, the doctor said. “Procedures like soft-palate resection – I can’t imagine doing them without my laser. Doing a soft-palate resection on a pug-nosed dog, even during the time of a spay – they’re just going to do a lot better in life…”
Dr. Irwin’s other passion is wildlife photography. The doctor has traveled to seven African countries and has even photographed butterflies in the Caribbean. “With animal photography, I’m most interested in characterizing personality, often through close-ups”, Dr. Irwin said. He also expressed hope for increasing environmental awareness and human compassion for animals: “habitat destruction, poaching and other human interactions leaves the future of many species in doubt…”
Dr. Irwin’s collection can be found at www.jimirwinwildlifephotography.com