If you have coronary heart disease and need open heart surgery to bypass clogged vessels would you chose a family practice doctor or an ER physician to perform the surgery? No! Likewise why do some people who desire cosmetic surgery go to a non-plastic surgeon like the ones mentioned above for their cosmetic needs? Seems strange don’t you think? Actually it is flawed reasoning and it could cost you your life. In fact, recently in Miami Florida a surgery center which allowed a family medicine trained doctor without any surgery training or in depth knowledge of critical surgical anatomy to perform a Brazilian Buttock lift. Tragically, the patient died of cardiac arrest most likely as a result from injecting large volumes of fat directly into large veins within the gluteal muscle resulting in fat emboli to heart and lungs. Plastic surgeons with years of surgical training supported with constant continuing medical education supported by the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and The American Society of Plastic Surgeons would be far less likely to make that same mistake. Why take that chance when life is too precious and ultimately irreplaceable. Saving a few dollars by using a fringe doctor could ultimately kill you and, needless to say, not worth it. Aesthetic plastic surgical procedures can provide enhanced self-esteem and permanently alter the form and function of undesired areas of the face and body. These procedures are real surgeries which are technically demanding and can result in unwanted complications even in the best of hands. As is the case in any other surgical field, expertise coupled with a large volume of clinical experience results in best outcomes.
Unfortunately, economic driving forces such as reduced physician reimbursement, health insurance monopolies, and greed for maximizing profits have enticed practitioners to leave their comfort zones to pursue procedural based fee-for-service businesses outside of insurance contracts. Other contributing factors include the driving force of equipment manufacturers encouraging sales of their surgical devises along with weekend educational courses to stimulate sales. Many of these individuals have limited training, almost no clinical experience, and zero credentials in the way of professional society’s support of education and analysis of clinical outcomes for a given procedure. In fact, The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons leaped into action to delve into cases of operative deaths related to the ever increasing popular procedure of the Brazilian Buttock Lift. Such cases within the United States and abroad were analyzed using data from operative records, interviews with surgeons and staff as well as autopsies to define the problem and make recommendations to avoid unwanted deaths. Unfortunately most of the deaths occur under the care of non-plastic surgeons who probably don’t even know what they don’t know. This past spring the annual national meeting of ASAPS in San Diego dedicated time to brief the membership on important steps to avoid unwanted outcomes. In the right hands, with experience and excellent surgical training, these procedures can provide amazing results that fulfill the aesthetic goals of women seeking a more pleasing shape to the buttock area while enhancing unwanted contours elsewhere on the body. The bottom line: liposuction and fat grafting are true surgeries not to be performed in back rooms of clinician’s offices or unregulated outpatient surgical centers where peer review and outcome analysis is absent and best practice guidelines are intentionally ignored.
I spent almost a decade and a half in training specifically to provide exclusively high quality surgical care for my aesthetic plastic surgery patients. Together with my plastic surgery colleagues, I am passionate about providing excellent outcomes for our patients with minimal complications and I find it offensive when untrained people try to enter the same arena to provide services simply to make extra money. This is not just business to me its personal because we in the field of plastic surgery have dedicated our lives to this cause.