USA Today did extensive research on the subject, examined previous lawsuits and interviewed patients, lawyers and surgeons. They found the general outcome of this new trend to be quite tragic; leaving patients scarred for life, or worse, dead.
Stories of the victims included that of 32-year-old Kellee Lee-Howard, who lost her life in 2010 after undergoing “minimally invasive” liposuction at the hands of Alberto Sant Antonio; a doctor who wasn’t board certified in any medical specialty, including plastic surgery.
Maria Shortall, 38, was also a patient of Sant Antoino. In June, Shortall died of a heart attack while recovering from liposuction and a body fat transfer performed at his office.
Rohie Kah-Orukotan also shared the same fate as the previous two patients. She received liposuction by Omar Brito—an occupational health specialist. According to USA Today, Brito surrendered his medical license when he was caught performing cosmetic surgery procedures without training or the right equipment!
All three of these women died after undergoing liposuction, two of them because of lidocaine toxicity, an overdose of the painkiller used as local anesthesia during the procedure.
Florida State Senator Eleanor Sobel is currently working to pass a bill in order to prevent cases like these by imposing more strict regulations on these medical “spas”. She told USA Today that, “with the increase in the number of deaths, it should be a priority this year.”
In the bill, Sobel puts special emphasis on requiring someone trained in anesthesia to be involved in medical spa operations like liposuction.
She said, “"I don't think these general practitioners are skilled in anesthesia, which could be deadly," says Sobel. "The issue is not going away and needs to be resolved."
The problem lies here, where inexperienced “cosmetic surgeons” advertise safe, non-invasive procedures with a discounted price tag.
The reason why their services are cheaper is because many of these doctors aren’t utilizing the expertise of an anesthesiologist or general anesthesia (also known as IV sedation). Instead they opt for local anesthesia, many times lidocaine, which comes with serious risks if administered incorrectly.
Their lack of training may be the culprit, not price savings. Doctors that aren’t board-certified are not permitted to perform surgery at a hospital or accredited surgical center, so of course the surgery is going to cost less.
There is a difference between plastic surgeons who’ve been trained in residency programs, and cosmetic surgeons. Although the newest group of cosmetic surgeons might be board certified in some other area of medicine, they certainly didn’t put their time in towards learning the craft of plastic surgery, which has many experts concerned.
According to USA Today, “Residencies-- the years-long stints working in hospitals under the guidance of more senior physicians — are required for board certification and are the principal distinction separating plastic and cosmetic surgeons, who typically instead do year-long fellowships or private training.”
Plastic surgeon and head of the Florida Society of Plastic Surgeons, Randy Miller said, “Boards are assembled so you can say you are board-certified. No one is pretending to be a heart surgeon, no one is pretending to be a pediatrician, but everyone’s pretending to be a plastic surgeon.”
Patients considering cosmetic surgery, whether it’s for a small Botox procedure, or a more extensive mommy makeover, are encouraged to do extensive research on the surgeon of your choice.
USA Today provided a pre-surgery checklist for patients to help make a safer decision:
1. Find out if your doctor is board certified in plastic surgery and has any accreditations. 2. Find out if your doctor is licensed and has any in-state disciplinary actions. 3. Order full physician profile and disciplinary history report. 4. Search for surgery centers with legitimate accreditations.
The most important thing to remember is never choose to undergo plastic surgery solely based on the price. A good deal isn’t going to keep you safe and leave you looking great, but a trained, board-certified plastic surgeon will.
This article was written by the medical research team at WhereismyDoctor.com
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