University Plastic Surgery
Informed Consent / ICATH Provider No
WPATH Standards of Care Yes
University Plastic Surgery provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for plastic surgery across Chicago. Our team of specialized plastic surgeons treat both adult and pediatric patients, and are devoted to the individual needs of patients with state of the art technology.
I went to see Dr. Schechter in the beginning of 2016 for a masculinizing top surgery consult. He was dismissive and uninterested in what I had to say at the initial appointment. I thought wanting a compassionate doctor was asking for too much and through most of my research found he had good results so I followed up regardless of my concerns with his personality.
I was waiting on insurance approval and after about a month of waiting, I decided to check in with them. Apparently they didn't get the specific approval codes they said they needed from my insurance. They failed to let me know this when it happened, which was two weeks before I called. I reached out to my insurance, who assured me they had, in fact, approved everything. It was very clear from the many people I spoke to at my insurance and the /way/ they spoke to me they were doing everything they could to cooperate with Schechter's office. When I returned the call to Schechter's office to discuss what the actual problem was, they still insisted insurance hadn't done their part in the way they needed. This led to a three-way call between my insurance, Schechter's receptionist (at least from what I understand she was a receptionist) that was handling my case, and me. On this call, insurance told them exactly what they had told me, that all codes were approved. They read each of the codes that were approved and what they entailed. Receptionist insisted they needed others approved. Insurance asked which ones they needed, only to explain those weren't real codes they could give approval for because they were non-existent on their end but that they had approved the exact things they were asking for, regardless of the codes not matching up.
I wasn't entirely sure who to believe even after the three-way call but insurance definitely sounded more genuine since they were explaining things in depth and giving evidence to support their claims. What really made me understand just how incompetent Schechter and his colleagues were was when I switched to another surgeon, Dr. Alison Shore. Her office had my insurance approval cleared in two weeks without me having to intervene in any way. I might have given Schechter some more credit, knowing first-hand insurance can be a pain, if my experience with Dr. Shore had been complicated even in the slightest but it wasn't. I still remember listening to that receptionist repeat that the wrong codes were approved, over and over, with nothing to back her up, while my insurance consistently gave reasons why she was wrong.
On top of that, my girlfriend attended a consult at the same time I did, each of our consults costing $100, which we paid both fees at the time of the appointments and she was hounded by the office for an extra $40 months later, with no explanation of why.
I can't speak to the results of his work because him and his colleagues couldn't even get me to that step but if you're looking for someone kind enough to treat you like a human rather than a dollar sign and that has a competent team, which I think in retrospect are both fair things to ask from someone performing surgery on you, I would pick a someone else.
I would not recommend Schecter for surgery . He is very dismissive and rushes conversations in a very short sighted way.He is a low risk surgeon but doesn't have A grasp on the techniques he could be using.
My surgery resulted in the vagina’s depth being much shorter than average.He only was able to get 3.50 inches of a desired 5 to 6. He handled my tissue in such a way that there is hair in my vagina still today. It is possible to have some removed if maybe not all the hair removed but only in the first 2 inches of the canal.
Schecter has a urologist surgeon do the work with the urethra during surgery. This type of arrangement did not have good results for myself. Both my clit and urethra is functional but not actually medically accurate. I still have some dysphoria because of this and my urine stream gets on my clothes occasionally because of the placement and arrangement.
The most concerning circumstance is he left too much tissue that is around my urethra , the corpus spongiosum, so when I get turned on it feels like I am tucking. This is the hardest part for me. This results in me being challenged with some dysphoric feelings overall in my day to day and while being sexual.
For the follow up appointment he touched me with out asking first. He apologized and didn’t do it again— but consider I have not been comfortable or trusting to seem him again because the lack in consistency in outcomes.
I would recommend Dr Satterwhite, meltzger or bowers. I am in conversation with Schecker about my results in hopes that he update his practices in such a way to use his strengths and address his consistent problems Howard brown has seen both in my results and with other Howard Brown post op patients like myself.
I could write an entire book on my absolutely horrific experience with Loren Schechter, but I will just bullet and highlight the biggies:
• He refused to prescribe me anything stronger than 5mg Norco despite literally not having skin on my arm and having the type of injury consistent with severe burn patient, even though I have chronic pain issues and told him this in my consult before surgery. He literally left me in excruciating pain. He would also come into my hospital room and take my arm and bend it backwards and forwards while I SCREAMED in agony- none of that was necessary to test range of motion. He could have simply asked me to move my hand as much as possible until it caused me too much pain. It was literally sadistic what he did.
• He never came to talk to me after surgery and tell me what happened during my RFF phalloplasty, and still to this day cannot explain certain questions I have about the surgery. I opted for a vaginectomy, which he says his urologist completed and he cannot answer questions about it – but I still have a vagina and it is still bleeding and still causing issues, and the only recourse he has is for me to fly across the country to see him in the office. Basically: he got paid to do a surgery he didn't complete.
• He did two additional surgeries on me than what was discussed in my consultation, and was very vague and didn't seek my consent for these surgeries – leaving me no option but to have to do them. What I mean is that I was scheduled for a skin graft, cystoscopy and SP catheter change on June 28, and during my pre-op, he came to talk to me, told me about the skin graft, and when I asked him to explain the others, he said, "oh, we aren't doing that – we'll do that in two weeks." He said this about 90 seconds before taking me to the OR, never having discussed this plan for me, and leaving me no other option but to go along with it. He still cannot and will not explain what happened in all of the surgeries I had.
• His urologist, Ervin Kocjancic, has been practicing medicine for some time in the US and still has not taken his US Boards. He was incredibly rude to me, and when I reported inability to urinate, told me flippantly that he would see me in a month. When I questioned this, he told me that I'm not a doctor, I don't know what I'm talking about, and that if I don't like what he says I can go somewhere else. I ended up having to drive 11 hours to get my urethral issues fixed – Kocjancic made my urethra so small that they couldn't even fit a pediatric catheter inside of it.
• Kocjancic called me a drug addict in front of the chief medical officer at UIC hospital when I was admitted for severe pain (because neither he nor Schechter actually treated it). I do not have drug addiction problems and never have, although I do have severe chronic pain issues.
• Weiss Hospital where Schechter performed my surgery lost my bag of medications when I went to the ER. They never checked them into the pharmacy or locked them up, and the pharmacy tech didn't finish my pill count (they are supposed to count every pill and submit the list to the pharmacy - I still have the original copy where she just didn't count all my meds even though she wrote all of them down), and someone stole almost an entire bottle of hydrocodone.
• Nurses at Weiss Hospital were giggling and joking about my penis in front of another patient room, and by doing so broke HIPAA (and just common decency) and as a result another patient found me and knew I was a trans patient. This was never addressed.
• I opted for a vaginectomy, and I still have a vagina. Neither Schechter nor Kocjancic are willing to explain to me why they didn't fully perform the vaginectomy and left me with a gaping hole. They never once looked at this surgical site the entire almost 6 weeks I spent in the hospital at Weiss (and almost a week at UIC). I only saw Kocjancic twice in two months, and he never looked at the vaginectomy site, they would both only lift up the penis, look under it, say "looks good," and then leave. That was it. Not once did they actually look at the large, bleeding hole they left (and it is much too close to parts of the GI system in that area).
• Dr. Figler, an interventional radiologist who placed my midline catheter (because I had over 25 IVs that all blew) subjected me to a diatribe about "Bruce Jenner" for a solid 15 minutes while he placed my midline catheter, misgendering Caitlyn the entire time.
• Schechter never performed the glansplasty.
This isn't even half of what I experienced. These are just the highlights. I would need much more than 5,000 characters to be able to properly review and note what all happened.
I cannot state this strongly enough. Do NOT use this individual for GCS. Even if your insurance company or Medicare/Medicaid offer you little choice because he is the only game in town. Try to find another option. Any option. My experience was traumatizing. He tortured me. Thorek hospital, out of which he operates is a shambles and your gender identity will NOT be respected. I am a journalist. I don;t exaggerate claims by nature of my profession and it is my wholehearted belief that Schechter, his partner Fred Ettner and Fred's wife Randy are scamming people with at best incompetent and at worst dangerous results. Full details can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/gretchen-rachel-hammond/dr-loren-schechter-md-putting-a-face-on-malpractice/10153879357043449
I expect to make an appointment for a consult as any other physician. Not this office in order to get an appointment you must fill all the medical forms first! Then send them back, then they will schedule you for a consult. The only positive is he takes insurance!!! However I still need to submit two letters from therapist and primary doctor, so $100 later I still have no idea what my out of pocket will be. I have to say this experience ranks at the bottom of dealing with any medical provider, I have experienced in my adult life. Its 2015 we as a community deserve better! I can not recommend using Dr. Loren Schechter.