In response to recent reports of issues and even deaths resulting from plastic surgery, The American Society of Plastic Surgeon has launched a patient safety campaign to inform the public of the dangers of having cosmetic procedures performed by unqualified or under-qualified doctors.
What is a Plastic Surgeon?
Of particular concern to the organization is an issue they are calling “white coat deception,” which stems from the fact that just because a doctor has a medical license it does not mean he or she is trained and qualified to perform plastic surgery. Only four states (California, Florida, Louisiana and Texas) have laws requiring full disclosure of the specifics of a physician’s medical training and background. In states without this requirement any doctor—for instance a pediatrician or OB/GYN—can claim to be a qualified plastic surgeon.
In other states doctors can undergo a few hours or days of training in a procedure, then begin performing the procedure. However, this lack of training and experience leaves them unprepared to deal with complications that experienced plastic surgeons are well aware of and fully qualified to deal with. There have been a number of stories recently in the press about deaths associated with liposuction—a common and safe procedure when performed correctly—when the doctor performing the procedure was not experienced and couldn’t handle complications that arose. Other stories abound of disfigurement, and in many cases the ability to subsequently repair the damage is compromised by mistakes made during surgery.
What is “Board Certification?”
In order to become a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), a doctor must have a minimum of six years of surgical training in plastic surgery. They also must complete oral and written examinations, and continue to pursue 50 hours a year of continuing education with an important emphasis on patient safety. Additionally, ASPS members do not operate in a facility unless it is accredited, insuring the optimum in patient safety for the rare occasion when there is a problem. And finally, ASPS members adhere to a strict code of ethics.
So don’t trust your procedure to just any cosmetic surgeon. Make sure you do your homework and insure that your plastic surgeon is board-certified.