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Cosmetic Surgery Patient Alert – Be Wary of Physicians Practicing Outside their Specialty

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Cosmetic SurgeryIf you are considering cosmetic surgery, the most important thing is to find the right plastic surgeon. It’s no secret that patients need to choose a surgeon who is specialized in the specific treatment they are considering, that is, a woman who wants breast augmentation should find a cosmetic breast surgeon, and so on. Prospective patients should thoroughly research their provider to ensure that he or she has the right credentials and expertise in the field. When it comes to aesthetic surgical treatment, you need to be wary about doctors practicing outside their specialty. Lack of awareness on the part of patients could result in botched up treatment and sometimes, irreversible consequences.

A recent BBC report underlines the importance of restricting physicians from performing cosmetic surgery outside their specialty. The Royal College of Physicians said that it wants the current rules to be amended as they allow "GPs to do nose jobs", a practice which is affecting patients. The organization points out the need for a new system to certify surgeons for every procedure. Bodies that represent aesthetic plastic surgeons support the idea, but point out that it help patients only when such a system is put in place and made mandatory, with existing regulations tightened.

A spokesman of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) said, "This will only protect the public if the recommendations are mandatory and policed, It is essential that the public know who to go to when seeking a qualified cosmetic surgeon, but also, to be assured that the quality of their outcome will meet accepted standards, and particularly to meet their own expectations".

The problem of non-specialists expanding into cosmetic surgery for lucrative reasons has also been reported in the US. A New York Times report published in 2012 highlighted this issue. According to the article, declining insurance reimbursements were pushing more doctors, regardless of specialty, to provide lucrative cosmetic procedures which were paid for by patients.

However, in recent years, consumer empowerment in the U.S. has reached new levels with Internet use. As a result,

  • People are aware about the importance of learning about physicians’ credentials and background
  • Patients are more likely to ask questions about these matters, including the physician’s training and qualifications to perform a particular procedure.

The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) believes that most licensed physicians restrict practice to their areas of training but states that there are measures to hold transgressors accountable. Hospitals often require physicians to be board certified in a medical specialty before they will grant privileges to practice in the hospital. This is intended to prevent physicians from practicing in areas of training in which they may not be able to practice safely.

As a good first step, cosmetic surgery patients should

  • Learn more about the surgeon by verifying his or her credentials, training, experience and skills
  • Have their procedure in an American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) accredited plastic surgery facility

An accredited surgical practice would ensure adherence to the stringent prescribed national standards for equipment, operating room safety, personnel, and plastic surgeons’ credentials.

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