A few months ago in this column, I took the “patient pulse” and reported on what our patients were talking about. Today, they are still talking as much as ever—only the subject matter has changed.

A cosmetic surgeon in Phoenix was recently indicted in the deaths of three of his patients. Peter J. Normann, MD, was indicted on two counts of second-degree murder and one count of manslaughter in the deaths of three of his patients who underwent liposuction in his Anthem, Ariz, practice.

According to an investigation, he performed two of the surgeries, and an associate—a homeopathic practitioner and not a trained surgeon—performed the other surgery. Reportedly, Normann received seven training sessions to learn liposuction surgery, the same number of sessions he had to learn hair-restoration surgery.

Prior to the indictment, Normann moved to Germany. But not for long. US Customs and Border Protection officers apprehended Normann at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport on October 25, 2008.

Wait a minute. Let’s back up a second. Seven sessions to learn liposuction? Give me a break.

Link: [removed]www.kpho.com/news/17749432/detail.html[/removed]

Stem cells for breast augmentation. An interesting news article surfaced a few weeks ago that claims that plastic surgeons in Europe and Japan are using stem cells for breast augmentation. It also states that some surgeons in the United States are also performing stem cell breast augmentation.

The closest thing to stem cell breast augmentation that I have experience with is fat grafting to the breast. Fat actually does contain a large amount of stem cells, and the procedure does work. However, due to significant controversy regarding its possible effects on mammography and breast cancer detection, I don’t perform it except in those situations where breast implants cannot be used or in breast reconstruction after mastectomy.

Link: [removed]www.upi.com/Health_ News/2008/08/19/Stem_cells_being_used_for_bigger_breasts/UPI-54551219201087/[/removed]

Acupuncture? What’s the point? Yahoo! News last month published a story that describes a procedure for doing a facelift via acupuncture. Practitioners claim that it stimulates collagen production, lifts sagging skin, and is as effective as Botox.

I believe there is real validity to some of acupuncture’s benefits that cannot be explained by science. That said, I’ve never seen actual results from acupuncture-based facelifts, and I would be interested in seeing some before-and-after photos. In the meantime, I will stick with actually putting something into the needles when I poke a person’s skin.

Link: http://video.yahoo.com/watch/953355/3708186

Down with Donda. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed the so-called Donda West law (named after Kanye West’s late mother, who died shortly after having plastic surgery). The law, which was passed by legislators several months ago, would have required all patients to undergo a physical exam and get a doctor’s clearance before plastic surgery.

Link: www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-arnold29-2008sep29,0,1579699.story

The state of plastic surgery in the current economy. The New York Times recently published an article that focuses on how plastic surgery big-ticket items, such as facelifts and tummy tucks, have been affected by the recent downturn in the economy.

While the demand for less invasive (and less expensive) treatments, such as Botox and Restylane, has grown, the amount of actual surgery performed has increased at a snail’s pace, according to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

In a survey conducted in April and May of 2008, more than 600 plastic surgeons were asked how business was doing this year. Nearly 53% said the downturn in the economy has had an adverse impact on their plastic surgery practices.

Part of this, according to the survey results, may be due to people having less disposable income than even 1 year ago. This has resulted in declines in the waiting lists for even the most prominent plastic surgeons.

I believe a part of the downturn in business for these practices is also due to the emergence of non-plastic surgeons who are performing plastic surgery.

Link: www.nytimes.com/2008/06/19/fashion/19skin.html?pagewanted=2&_r=3#

Anthony S. Youn, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Rochester Hills, Mich. He can be reached at (248) 650-1900.