The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) urges physicians to speak to their patients about the importance of selecting a board-certified physician to perform their surgery. The Academy also recommends that physicians caution their patients to do their homework and consider a physician’s training and credentials before they decide if a he or she is the right choice for them.

Arielle N.B. Kauvar, MD, FAAD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine (New York, NY) knows the risks involved when an aesthetic procedure is not performed by a qualified physician.

“Today, many nonphysicians are performing various cosmetic procedures outside their scope of training in spas, shopping malls, and walk-in clinics,” says  Kauvar. “While these locations may offer convenience, the limited training and supervision of the person performing the procedure, and the equipment available to handle complications or medical emergencies, can jeopardize the health and appearance of the patient.”

Some patients may have medical problems or take medications that may increase the risks of side effects. Nonphysicians may not be knowledgeable about these conditions, Kauvar notes.

“I have seen many cases of cosmetic procedures gone wrong. These procedures were performed by nonphysicians without appropriate physician supervision,” Kauvar says. “In addition, staff members were not adequately trained in the procedure or knowledgeable about the risks and complications.”

To help patients choose a qualified dermatologist, the Academy recommends that physicians tell their patients to ask the following questions.

• What are the physicians credentials and what type of training does the staff have?

• How many of these procedures has the physician performed? What results can be expected? Ask to see before and after photos.

• How long is the recuperation period?

• What are the risks?

• What is the cost?

“The patient’s safety is the top priority for any physician,” Kauvar says. “The overall care a patient receives from a physician in his or her office is unparalleled to the walk-in clinics found in shopping malls and spas. A well-informed patient and a board-certified physician are always the best prescription for a successful outcome.”

[www.newswise.com, July 26, 2007]