Patients & Providers: Redefining the Patient-Doctor Relationship

With an extensive informational website, acceptance of all gender identities, and excellence in care, Dr Scott Mosser has established himself as one of the top surgeons in the transgender community. But how did he come to do this work when not a lot of doctors are doing it?

Redefining the Patient-Doctor Relationship

by Scott Mosser

People often ask me how I got started in my work with the transgender community. For many years I have had an extremely successful cosmetic plastic surgery practice. While I still really enjoy that work, at this point my practice is more than 90% gender confirming surgery.

Fin, one of Dr Mosser’s patients

It all started many years ago, probably more than ten years, when a transgender gentleman came to see me for top surgery. From the very first patient interaction, the experience was an absolute delight. He was substantive, empathetic, articulate and insightful. He knew who he was and knew exactly what he wanted and I immediately found the task of helping them to be deeply meaningful. When I performed his top surgery, he was extremely satisfied and gracious. At the end of it all, I thought to myself “Gosh, it would be great to have more patients like this individual.”

In time, more transgender men, transgender women and, more recently, gender-neutral and non-binary individuals came to see me who were interested in surgery as well. I was soon aware that the attributes of my first patient flourished in each surpassing individual. The depth and meaning of this initial encounter has borne itself out over and over again as a core part of the work with trans individuals. This is surgery that is pivotal in a moment of embarkation on a new direction in life for my patients.

It is not unlike the cleft lip and cleft palate surgery that I do as a part of the nonprofit that I founded (called Destination: Hope International Medical Missions).  With cleft lip and palate surgery, in a sense, a patient is being brought into the light as a result of a simple surgical procedure. The patient has a new life and they go from being deeply scrutinized and sometimes mocked by their peers, to having a normally interactive and balanced environment in which to grow.  A patient is made to feel safe as a result of the service provided, and their destiny is turned on a dime.  Medical mission work is powerful stuff.

Transgender work is equally powerful. It’s not just because the patient interactions are more meaningful than cosmetic patients, it’s because it has been an opportunity for me to find out what I am made of. I can simultaneously watch myself grow into the next phase that I was meant for as my patients grow into a new chapter of their life. For me, this mutual growth redefines the patient and doctor relationship and makes it so gratifying to see that trans work is rapidly gaining in popularity and acceptance. Obviously, universal gender expression acceptance is still not something that is universal. All of us working in the space know this to be true and have seen these challenges firsthand.

Ari, Dr Mosser’s patient

It has been a tremendous growth experience for me to see in myself the commitment to going somewhat against the grain and steadfastly putting hard work towards something that I deeply believe in.  But, truth be told, one does not have to be particularly fortified or resilient to go against this particular grain, because trans work is so fulfilling on the job that any external challenges are immediately compensated by internal gratifications.

As a doctor I had previously never known patient gratitude in the way that I experience it every day now for my trans patients. It is an unbelievable privilege to be thanked and to do work that is worthy of thanks, and has made it fun again to be a doctor. I’m one of those people that has no problem at all working extremely hard and going home exhausted every day, but if that work is not impactful then over time it seems to deplete me rather than fill me. Transgender surgery is a perfect nexus of hard work, meaning, connection, and the deep impact with every single individual with whom I work. I remain full and fortified. It is easy to remain mission driven with this work and easy to work oneself to the bone knowing that this is a labor that absolutely must be done, and matters to so many, many people.

About Dr Scott Mosser

Dr. Mosser began his interest in medicine early, earning a Fulbright Scholarship to Ecuador where he spent a year investigating the Ecuadorian healthcare system. He studied medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston TX and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland OH where he completed an internship and six years of comprehensive general and plastic surgery training. After a cosmetic surgery fellowship, his private practice thrived for years in the realm of cosmetic face and body surgery.  However, in recent years he has found special meaning in transferring the results and service standards from cosmetic surgery to the surgery needs of the transgender population.  

Scott W. Mosser, MD  is a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon. He is a cofounder of the American Society of Gender Surgeons, and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), is a member of WPATH (World Professional Association of Transgender Health) and the United States Professional Association of Transgender Health (USPATH), is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS) and is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

Learn more about Dr. Mosser’s practice at the Gender Confirmation Center in San Francisco, CA.

Questions about top surgery?

Check out this blog’s resource articles, visit the comprehensive Gender Confirmation website, or ask Dr Mosser in the comments.

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