Plan on getting your nose done or breast lifted? It would be wise to first check out if the doctor is qualified to do the job, especially if it’s your first time. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) recently put together a new public safety campaign to advocate this sentiment, supported by a succession of reports on botched-up plastic surgeries performed by non-board-certified surgeons in the field.
“Patients are getting injured, some are dying during procedures performed by non-board-certified plastic surgeons. We want patients to understand what to ask their doctor and what to look for so that they can maximize their chance of a safe and successful procedure,” ASPS President, Dr Malcolm Z. Roth said.
“White coat deception” is a term used by head plastic surgeons — just because someone is wearing a white coat doesn’t automatically mean the person has all the necessary qualifications to perform surgery. A white coat is just what it is; in no way does it represent board-certification.
Dr Roth explained that the usual misconception of the public is that when a doctor is certified in a medical field, he/she instantly qualifies to practice plastic surgery. “This is absolutely wrong and it is dangerous for patients,” Roth added. For those living in the US, a plastic surgery doctor must be a member of the ASPS, which serves as confirmation that he/she went through the necessary training and meets particular standards to practice plastic surgery.
By law, any doctor in the US who has a medical license to practice in any field of medicine can legally do plastic surgery. Board-certification isn’t a requirement. However, in states like Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and California, advertisement requirements demand that medical practitioners give clear detail on their training.
Dr Steven Teitelbaum, an ASPS member, said that at present once a medical license has been given, you can enter any medical field you want. The case should be that when a person gets trained in a particular field, he/she only be able to practice that and nothing else. Unfortunately, most state laws allow some physicians to walk into plastic surgery grounds without the required training and certification. Teitelbaum is dismayed that a number of physicians fail to use proper judgment and enter into practice beyond the limits of their training.
There has been a growing number of patients who come to Teitelbaum to correct their botched-up surgeries, all of which were performed by non-board-certified doctors. He shared a case about one of his patients, named Dinora Rodriguez, who received breast implant surgery from an unqualified surgeon. She discovered the implants were merged together and that the surgeon also performed a procedure on her eyes without her knowledge. Now, she couldn’t close her eyes properly.
Dinora Rodriguez said, “It was a terrible experience waking up from surgery and seeing that this had happened. I didn’t know to check my doctor’s qualifications and I regret it.”
The ASPS gives pointers on checking a plastic surgeon’s credibility:
- Ask whether the surgeon is board-certified in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery
- Look for a certificate in the doctor’s office that is endorsed by the American Board of Plastic Surgery
- Visit plasticsurgery.org and click on “Find a Surgeon” to see if your doctor is listed
In the Philippines, people can go to the Philippine College of Surgeons website (pcs.org.ph) and look up their surgeon from there. Alternately, they can confirm their surgeon’s credentials with the Philippine Medical Association.