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Buyer Beware Med Spas and Cosmetic Deals

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You’re not alone in your interest in cosmetic procedures. According to statistics released in March 2013 by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Americans spent almost $11 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2012. The number of cosmetic procedures has increased 250 percent since the organization first began tracking statistics in 1997. That’s a lot of Botox.

Unfortunately, not all providers are trained or qualified to provide these services, putting patients at risk of lasting injury and, in some cases, even death.

The flourishing industry is a draw to all kinds of practitioners. Increasingly, these procedures are being performed in med spas or even OB-GYN or dental offices in northeast Indiana where practitioners have little training in plastic surgery. Sometimes, there isn’t anyone certified in plastic surgery on staff.

Believe it or not, there is absolutely no regulation preventing a doctor who trained in orthopedics, pediatrics or any other unrelated field from performing cosmetic procedures, both surgical and nonsurgical. And there’s no guarantee that doctor will know how to handle unexpected complications.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons launched a public safety campaign last fall on the heels of a string of incidents involving plastic surgeries gone wrong during procedures performed by non-board-certified plastic surgeons.

“Patients are getting injured, some are dying during procedures performed by non-board-certified plastic surgeons,” said Malcolm Z. Roth, M.D., ASPS president. “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.”

The new ASPS Public Service Announcement exposes what plastic surgery industry leaders call “white coat deception.” Roth explained that just because a doctor wears a white coat does not mean he or she is qualified to perform plastic surgery.

“There is a misconception among consumers that as long as a doctor is certified in a medical field, that he or she is qualified to practice plastic surgery. This is absolutely wrong and it is dangerous for patients,” said Roth.

“Today when you get your medical license, you can practice in any medical field that you choose,” said Dr. Steven Teitelbaum, M.D., an ASPS member surgeon who practices in the Los Angeles area. “What should happen is that every state medical board should say, ‘If you’re trained in pediatrics you are allowed to practice pediatrics, and if you’re trained in orthopedics you can practice orthopedics.’ But unfortunately, most state laws and regulations enable some physicians to drift into the practice of plastic surgery without proper training and certification. It has become increasingly apparent that some physicians fail to use proper judgment and enter into practice areas beyond their core training.”

Dr. Lee has cared for patients who were burned by lasers and suffered other complications at area med spas. “It’s buyer beware out there,” Dr. Lee says. “There’s no real regulation on who does what.”

Dr. Lee has been board-certified in plastic surgery since 1998. He’s a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Indiana State Medical Society, the Fort Wayne Medical Society and the American Society of Laser Medicine. He’s also a diplomat for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

As an ASPS surgeon, Dr. Lee must meet rigorous standards:

  • Complete at least five years of surgical training, with a minimum of two years in plastic surgery.
  • Train and gain experience in all plastic surgery procedures, including breast, body, face and reconstruction.
    operate only in accredited medical facilities.
  • Adhere to a strict code of ethics.
  • Fulfill continuing medical education requirements, including standards and innovations in patient safety.
  • Be board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Lee is also a member of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, which only a small percentage of board-certified plastic surgeons progress to obtain. This is the crème de la crème of aesthetic plastic surgery, to meet credentials to be admitted to this society.

If you’re considering a cosmetic procedure, Dr. Lee suggests that you ask:

  • Is there a medical director on site or available via phone call in case of an emergency?
  • Who is the medical director, and what is his or her training?
  • If he or she is board certified, in what specialty?
  • What is the training of the staff performing the procedures?
  • Who handles any potential complications?

The Centers for Disease Control and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons have published a checklist for those considering plastic surgery.

But even injectables such as Restylane and Botox can have serious side effects and complications. It’s worth pressing local providers to present their credentials. After all, as one ASPS doctor said, you wouldn’t buy a discount parachute, would you?

The risks are real and significant. Please share this post with your friends and loved ones.

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Lee, please call 260-427-7473 or see AspirePlasticSurgery.com.

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