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Keith Forwith

Innovative Thyroid Surgeon

Meet Dr. Keith Forwith, PhD, MD

No one in my family is a physician. Growing up, my parents held physicians in high regard. Both for their academic achievement as well as their dedication to helping others.

As a child, I suffered from allergies, migraines, and vertigo so I was quite familiar with the doctor’s office. Originally, I wanted to be a carpenter. I spent a lot of time helping my dad with woodworking and remodeling projects and was quite skilled with my hands. But I showed an aptitude for science that wouldn’t be used as a carpenter.

When I was 13, my dad had an unfortunate accident and sustained facial trauma that changed my life’s path. A surgeon was called in on a Sunday evening as my father’s life hung in the balance. That surgeon’s skill saved my father and planted the seed that would grow into my life’s work. As he did, I wanted to be able to use my intelligence, compassion, and even manual dexterity to make a difference in the lives of others. For me, there could be no other career with greater rewards than surgery. For a young boy who nearly lost his beloved father, my profession provides me daily with the chance to pay it forward.

There are many kinds of workers who use the title carpenter. Some are laborers who apply their skills to create rather ordinary things. Think of those neighborhoods full of rows of houses that look virtually identical. In this case, the builder learned to create a simple structure and do it over and over again. An inside look may reveal that the houses are adequate, adhering to recognized codes and standards but lack creative thought and dedication to detail. I did not want to be this type of carpenter. Some carpenters are true builders that use their creativity to produce unique and valuable homes. Each one is different from the next and each reflects aspects of the builder and the family the home is created for. Surgery is a lot like this. There are some surgeons who apply the same techniques day after day and produce reliable results. They stick to a limited number of techniques and simply repeat what they’ve been taught. They often brag of caseloads and compile volume as evidence of quality. But just like the rows of identical houses, there may be something lacking in the redundancy of their craft.

My dream was to become skilled artisan who is capable of producing hand crafted works of art. Each piece reflecting the summation of experience and constant dedication to improving my craft. I prefer to keep improving my skills with a broad range of problems and challenges that emphasizes quality over quantity. I continually evaluate my technique and enjoy the challenges of surgical problem solving. The thyroidectomy that I performed years ago seems simplistic and unrefined compared to the thyroid operations that I do today. The surgical scar is one example. My technique has evolved so that scarring is minimized- many of my patients’ friends and family can’t tell that they even had surgery, just months after the operation. Today, I’m also providing scarless thyroid surgery – an option for people who scar badly, keloid, or who just want the best possible cosmetic outcome. This new surgery, first developed in Thailand and South Korea, is being offered at such places at Johns Hopkins, University of Chicago, UCLA, Baylor, and here! This innovative approach requires an enormous amount of expertise with the traditional thyroidectomy as well as an intimate knowledge of anatomy, with all its possible variations, that can only come from extensive experience.

I am very conservative in my recommendations for surgery. I follow this simple rule: would I encourage my wife, child, parent, or friend to have the surgery under the same conditions? I sleep well at night because I never forget this very simple guideline: treat patients as though they are family and everyone you care about is watching!

So, if I’m doing my job right, an expert second opinion will only make me look good and provide reassurance to the patient and family. If’ I’m offended by a second opinion – then I’m not following the simple rule stated above. I encourage my family and friends to get second opinions for major surgery.

As a high-volume thyroid surgeon at this point in my career, most cases seem routine to me. But surgery is never routine to the patient. Each surgery is likely the first for the patient and a lot is on the line! The best outcomes are with the first surgery. Complications and completeness of resection matter, especially to cancer outcomes. While I strive to reduce complications to the lowest possible rates, there is still risk with every surgery. A thorough and honest discussion is part of every pre-operative counseling visit. In my field of expertise, it’s literally the patient’s neck on the line!

When the dog bites, when the bee stings… (Ok, you know the rest – feel free to sing along!)

Alta and Gold Miner’s Daughter

there is no better place to experience deep powder skiing than Alta, Utah. It’s where I became seriously addicted to skiing! Gold Miner’s Daughter is an unpretentious lodge situated at the base lift that remains laid back and remarkably cheap! Full buffet breakfast and a sit down dinner with table service included – a value that can’t be beat! Rough River We have a place that overlooks the water and serves as our weekend getaway. My winter snow ski addiction transforms into a water ski addiction beginning in March or April. The slalom course is where my passion lies; there’s nothing better than an early morning set on butter smooth water!

Strategy games

Our lake house has no internet, no phone, and no tv – so we break out the games and have some good old fashion quality family time. We started with Ticket to Ride, progressed to Settlers of Catan, and recently have a Dominion obsession. Pandemic has been the most recent addition and the first cooperative game (players work as a team and either all win or all loose – a bonus for the overly competitive gamer). Hockey A patient and friend introduced me to the Never Ever league at Iceland where I learned how to skate and stick handle. Now, I play as often as my bad knees will tolerate! It’s great exercise, great camaraderie, and there’s not checking!

The Bible

I never found much use for the bible until recent years. Now, its the book I read and study the most! Somehow, I missed out for so long on how marvelous it really is! So much truth and wisdom!

Nature Photography

I’ve always loved animals; in fact, I wanted to be a National Geographic photographer when I was a kid. Ok, so that’s a lie – I still want to be a National Geographic photographer! My gallery shows some of my better work so please show it to all your friends that work at the Geographic!

Music

I was the misfit in high school that was on the varsity wrestling team and in the band. Trumpet was my first and long time love, but I dabbled with the saxophone and played French horn as well. I love music of nearly every kind. I used to say I loved “ABC” music – “anything but country.” This was mostly because my dad used to insist we listen to the country music station while we worked (which wasn’t my favorite thing growing up). So for years I insisted on ABC music. Then, my dad passed and a year or so later I happened across a country station that brought me back to those days- and suddenly I’m a country music fan! I’m sure some shrink could tell me what type of reaction that is, but I don’t really care to know. I’ve just found some comfort in it and I will leave it just like that!

Technology

I’m a gadget guy. I love the stuff. It drives my wife crazy, actually! “What’s wrong with your old one? Why do we need this? Don’t you already have one of these?” Non-techies just don’t get it! Kim Crawford Savignon Blanc I really enjoy a good glass of wine. I used to call this variety “Savignon bland”, but then I discovered that a cool, crisp glass of Kim Crawford at the end of a hot summer ski day just really hit the spot.

Les Miserables

Well, it makes sense if you love music, that you’d love musicals- and I do! Somehow for me, nothing can match Les Mis. I know every song and nearly every lyric. I’ve heard every version every recorded and believe the 10th Anniversary concert edition can’t be beat. Can you hear the people sing?
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