By Jeffrey Frentzen

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ latest public education campaign, which was announced at the 2011 annual meeting, is aimed at encouraging consumers to use reliable information sources in order to learn about procedures and surgeons prior to going under the knife.

It also is aimed at reining in the overabundence of non-board certified or not wholly qualified physicians performing cosmetic and plastic surgery. ASPS Releases New PSA:

In the September 13, 2011 issue of USA Today there’s a comprehensive article about practitioners who misrepresent themselves as plastic surgeons, including an oral surgeon and an OB/GYN, and the dangers of undergoing surgery in ill-equipped facilities. Tragically, three women in Florida recently lost their lives at the hands of ill-trained practitioners from a lidocaine (painkiller) overdose administered during liposuction. At least one of the women believed that liposuction was weight loss surgery, which it is not, and all three women, acting in good faith, were lured by bargain basement prices.

The article implies that increased state oversight of negligent doctors would improve patient safety. Now, with the passage of the Donde West law, California requires patients to get a physical exam and written clearance from a doctor before undergoing cosmetic surgery. In Florida, state Senator Eleanor Sobel plans to reintroduce a bill to regulate med-spas as medical clinics, which would subject them to inspection.

Until state bodies have fully regulated who practices plastic surgery, and in what facilities, you can achieve your beauty goals as long as you do your homework.

The question always asked is, which organizations are worthy of inclusion according to the ASPS? Malcolm Roth, the newly elected ASPS president, tells consumers, “It is critical that your doctor is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.” This is reasonable, but what about organizations that oversee non-ASPS but still highly qualified surgeons?

At the 35,000-foot level: I believe performance and quality standards are in place throughout the industry but are not all in agreement. One can take all of them and construct standards that all societies, not just the ASPS, can agree to and follow. 

In its 2011 mandate, ASPS is primarily responding to a noticeable increase in the number of plastic surgery deaths reported in the media. And OB/GYNs, dentists, and other so-called noncore physicians can enter the cosmetic surgery and rejuvenation fields without too much trouble. Non-board certified physicians can claim to practice plastic surgery and that highlights the need for better oversight.

Until state bodies have fully regulated who practices plastic surgery, and in what facilities, you can achieve your beauty goals as long as you do your homework. Make sure your doctor is board-certified in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the only certification Board in plastic surgery recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

The ASPS is to be commended for pushing the issue onto the public and to publicize the practitioners that do procedures without necessary training. It also plugs the issue of surgical centers within doctors offices that are not up to snuff. The AAAASF organization, which accredits surgical centers, has had good success bringing operating rooms in line with government regulations and industry standards.

What of the role of anesthesia in some of the more highly publicized cases? It seems to be an important factor that gets mentioned only in passing in the ASPS PSA. The plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons (including the noncore practitioners) are on either side of a room trying not to notice the “anesthesia elephant” sitting in the middle…

The message to consumers, of “do your homework” when seeking cosmetic procedures, is well portrayed here by the ASPS. It is the main thrust of the society’s PSA effort and should be trumpeted.

The ASAPS jumps into the act

Ophthalmic surgeons have wide expertise (The American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery chimes in) h/t Brett Kotlus

Expect other societies and organizations to follow suit or risk being seen as insignificant in light of these issues.