We have our share of shady characters looking to make a buck from people seeking cosmetic surgery in New York, but fortunately we’re nowhere near the situation Florida finds itself in.
These days, the bad news from the sunshine state just won’t quit. Just recently, the chairman of the medical licensing board in the state said that plastic surgery in Florida was approaching a health risk.
Overdramatic? You might think so. Until you read the article posted on the website of a Jacksonville television station noting that complaints about bad cosmetic surgery now outnumber complaints about overprescribing opioids.
Because cases in Florida have been highly publicized, you might wonder if you’re safe having cosmetic surgery in New York, or anywhere else for that matter. We have followed stories from the southern state with interest, and we’ve noticed clues as to why so many complaints have been lodged there. We hope that by sharing these clues with you, you’ll be able to ensure you’re safe no matter where you elect to have plastic surgery.
The recent story posted on the Jacksonville CBS affiliate’s website detailed the case of a female patient who died following liposuction, and the medical board’s subsequent action against the physician. Here’s the first clue that this doctor may not have been a good choice:
“Brooks, a cardiologist, has seven days to consider the board’s offer.”
A cardiologist? Big red flag. We have great respect for physicians and the investments they make in their areas of specialization, but that doesn’t mean they are qualified to perform cosmetic surgery. In this case, the Florida Board of Medicine proposed sanctions on the cardiologist for perforating the patients’ bowel, causing sepsis and renal failure that led to her death.
Contrast the training cardiologists who may call themselves “cosmetic surgeons” receive with that of board certified plastic surgeons. To qualify for board certification in plastic surgery, a doctor must undergo at least five years of surgical residency after medical school, with two of those years focused on cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Take a deeper dive into the details here.
It’s not difficult to learn about a prospective cosmetic surgeon’s training and experience in the field, and that’s just what you should do before committing to surgery.
Recognizing “High Volume”
In an in-depth look at various cosmetic surgery clinics in south Florida earlier this year by USA Today, one theme that ran through the investigations was that the businesses were “high volume.” This is not what you want in a cosmetic surgery clinic you’re considering.
What are some clues that your doctor may be operating in a high-volume environment?
• Number of procedures: Depending on the complexity of each surgery, reputable plastic surgeons operate on very few patients per day. In a story published a few months ago, USA Today noted that in a Miami clinic, run like a “factory assembly line,” doctors operated on as many as eight or more patients per day.
• Consultations and recommendations: In high-volume practices, doctors don’t have time to perform thorough examinations and make thoughtful, informed recommendations for patients. Indeed, a related article in USA Today noted that serious violations included “sales agents with no medical licenses determining the appropriate surgeries for patients.”
• Surgical center ownership: It’s a good idea to take a look at who owns a clinic you might be considering. Both USA Today stories revealed that the clinics they investigated—which caused at least 13 patient deaths and resulted in more than 80 official complaints—were owned by “investors,” not by physicians or medical organizations. In fact, several of the owners had criminal histories including mortgage fraud, bank fraud and tax evasion. That’s bad enough at face value, but a resulting loophole in the law means that while doctors can be disciplined for cutting corners, investors can remain “immune” from prosecution.
The Bottom Line
Another theme the Florida cases have in common is that of “cut rate” cosmetic surgery. These clinics skimped on patient care in astonishing ways—including paying doctors on commission, leaving patients unmonitored after surgery, having unclean facilities and failing to keep good medical records. These kinds of tactics allowed the clinics to offer lower prices for cosmetic procedures, attracting business through social media and telemarketing. The resulting high volume of patients proved to be lucrative for clinic operators.
Like it or not, decisions about cosmetic surgery should not be made based on cost. To run a practice that adheres to the highest standards of cosmetic surgery safety in New York is expensive, we can attest to that. Costs include staff members with the highest levels of training, modern safety technology including lifesaving equipment, measures related to accreditation, thorough monitoring and follow-up immediately after and for months following surgery, operating on just a few patients per day and many more.
In our view, these measures are completely worthwhile for our patients’ sake, and our own. Everyone associated with our practice can feel proud of the way we care for our team and the men and women we work with.
No matter how routine cosmetic surgery can seem these days, there’s a saying most board certified plastic surgeons have used multiple times: cosmetic surgery is still surgery. Call us at 212-579-6080 if you’re interested in receiving the best possible treatment from professionals who truly care about you.