David B. Reath, MD
Knoxville, TN (865) 450-9253

Scary Stats: 60% of Liposuction Docs Untrained

safety firstRecently, a press release from the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS)  about an article written in our journal, was picked up by the Los Angeles Times and published.  (The ASPS Plastic Surgery Education Committee of which I am the vice-chairman, feeds these releases to the press on a monthly basis.)  This article is very timely, very informative, and very disturbing.  It dealt with who was doing plastic surgical procedures Southern California.  The procedures they looked at were Botox and filler injections, and liposuction.

It was expected that many different specialties would be elbowing their way into the injectable market, and certainly dermatologists (if properly trained) have a real place here.  However, the third largest group of doctors doing injections was primary care physicians.  But, even more disturbingly, the fourth largest group doing liposuction was also primary care physicians.  And, 40% of doctors doing liposuction had no surgical training.  And, just so we’re clear here, liposuction is surgery, as in real surgery.

It would be really nice to sit back say, “that’s California, what else would you expect?”  But believe me, it’s happening here in East Tennessee.  More and more practitioners with little or no experience and training are beginning to do the same thing.  It’s really scary to me as a plastic surgeon, and it should be scary to anyone who might be considering plastic surgery.

I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but go to an ASPS member surgeon if you are considering plastic surgery. We’re all Board-certified and have broad based training in all aspects of plastic surgery.  If all you know is one procedure, such as liposuction, it’s all you have to treat people with — whether or not it’s the right operation.  As they, if all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail.

So, what do we do about this?  Well, unfortunately there is no law against practicing an area of medicine in which you have neither adequate training nor board certification in.  As a patient and a consumer, you need to be sure you are seeing the right person.  Ask lot’s of questions, and find out about board certification.

With apologies to Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, of the Hill Street Blues:
Hey, let’s be careful out there.

David B.

Here is the LA Times article.

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