surgical error left patient disfigured and permanently injured

Surgery is not a “one size fits all” medical practice. In fact, even the best brain surgeons are not ideally suited for other types of surgery. The same goes for plastic surgery. Only doctors who have undergone specialized training and passed examinations specifically about plastic surgery should be performing operations like breast enhancements.

Unfortunately, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has reported that many doctors who are not certified to perform plastic surgery are doing just that. The president of the ASPS says that this kind of “white coat deception” leads to major surgical errors that can leave patients with permanent damage.

The ASPS recently launched a new campaign designed to inform patients about the dangers of hiring an uncertified surgeon to perform plastic surgery. One story in particular has become the focus of this campaign.

A 40-year-old woman from California chose her plastic surgeon because her friend recommended him. After the first surgery, the doctor told the woman that the new breast implants were leaking and needed to be replaced. During what should have been a simple corrective surgery, the doctor cut through important muscles and left the woman with conjoined breasts.

To make matters worse, during the same surgery, the doctor decided to perform a procedure on the woman’s eyelids, despite the fact that she had not asked him to do so. He also botched that procedure, and the woman is no longer able to completely close her eyes. As a result, she is required to take eye moisturizing medication for the rest of her life.

A board certified plastic surgeon was able to undo the damage that the first doctor did to the woman’s breasts. However, the corrective surgery required significant effort. According to the surgeon who corrected the mistake, the first doctor “violated many basic rules of the way breast implants are done.”

Sadly, this story is not unique. One certified plastic surgeon speculated that for every patient who tells her story to the media, “there are at least 100 patients who don’t speak up because they are ashamed.”

Hopefully, the ASPS initiative to inform patients about the risks of uncertified plastic surgeons will prevent similar medical malpractice in the future. Remember, just because a doctor has a license to practice medicine, that person may not be the best physician for you. The ASPS recommends that anyone considering plastic surgeon check to make sure the doctor has been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Source: ABC News, “American Society of Plastic Surgeons Urges Patients to Check Up on Their Surgeons for Their Safety,” Courtney Hutchinson, Sept. 26, 2011

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