Why do patients go to non-plastic surgeons for cosmetic surgery?

Would you go to a dermatologist for a hysterectomy? Would you go to a cardiologist for spine surgery? So why would anyone go to a physician who is not trained in the field of plastic surgery for cosmetic procedures?

One reason is because they trust their physician. Another is that it is cheaper. Or perhaps they are just uninformed.

In this era of declining insurance reimbursement, physicians are looking to find ways to supplement their income. They sometimes forget the three important words from the Hippocratic Oath: "premum non nocere" which is Latin for "first do no harm".

The training of a plastic surgeon is comprehensive and starts with general surgery where they learn the surgical anatomy and procedures of every organ system and how to deal with complications and traumatic injuries. It is followed by specialized training in plastic and reconstructive surgery to learn how to correct deformities and treat complicated problems. Plastic surgeons also learn cosmetic surgery which utilizes the solid knowledge of surgery and reconstruction to keep patients safe and achieve consistent results. Every step in the training is monitored by specialists in the area who train plastic surgeons, continuously evaluate the work they perform, and determine as safe and effective plastic surgeons in order to graduate from a training program. After completing a training program, plastic surgeons are then rigorously tested in three ways: a written exam, an oral exam, and a clinical exam, where their specific surgeries performed, complications, and outcomes are reviewed in order to certify them as having met the standards of a trained plastic surgeon. To be a "board certified plastic surgeon" the physician must have completed this process and must maintain their level of competence through continuing education and practice evaluation. All of this is done to ensure the plastic surgeon is competent and safe when performing cosmetic or reconstructive procedures.

Some other specialists may take a weekend course or seek experience from another doctor for several months. They may even hire someone to come into their practice to teach them procedures on their existing patients. Of course many doctors have learned how to perform surgical procedures in this way, but why would any patient forgo a specialist with extensive training and experience for someone with superficial knowledge and minimal or no experience?

Most non-plastic surgeons only offer cosmetic procedures in their offices. They are unable to perform these procedures in an accredited facility or a hospital because it is outside of their specific specialty. This is not a bureaucratic decision but a decision for safety. Since there is no mandate for office accreditation, offices do not have oversight by a surgical accreditation agency which ensures safety regulations and the standards of care are met.

So when a cardiologist goes to a 3-day liposuction course, or an emergency room doctor offers you a "tummy tuck", ask yourself: Would you ask an eye doctor to perform a hip replacement? Would you choose an allergist to treat cancer? Your physician may be a great doctor, but if he or she is starting to offer services outside of their specialty, beware of the risks you are taking.

Ask a competent plastic surgeon to perform your cosmetic procedure. Your health is worth more than the money you may save, and now you are informed. Call Dr. Gorodisky at 805-983-1999 to speak with a real plastic surgeon who is trained and experienced in liposuction procedures.

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