Australia is implementing a law that will require plastic and cosmetic surgeons to tell their patients if they have performed a procedure fewer than 100 times.
On the surface, this seems like a great start at increasing safety of cosmetic surgery patients. In reality, though, a law like this sidesteps the factors that really separate dependable surgeons from bad ones.
Why Lack of Regulation Puts You at Risk
Too many states allow anyone to perform “elective” surgeries as long as they have a valid MD – regardless of whether they have any specialized cosmetic or plastic surgery training. Certification by a board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (or, for that matter, any board) is entirely optional. The fact is that many of the Los Angeles cosmetic surgery practices near me are staffed by dermatologists, gynecologists, or family practitioners, not board-certified plastic surgeons.
This poses problems, because all patients want attractive results through a safe and satisfying surgical experience. Many patients take for granted that their surgeon has the ethical standards to fully discuss the procedure and recovery, the training to prevent “surprises,” and the hospital privileges and medical authority to handle any unexpected issues immediately, without requiring another surgeon to step in.
Unfortunately, current laws in the United States don’t go far enough to protect patients and demand competence of surgeons.
Where to Draw the Line: Why 100-Procedure Disclosure Isn’t Enough
Surgeons refine their skills through training and experience, which is why the top boards, like the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery, require several years of surgical-training residencies as part of the doctor certification process.
At the same time, though, all too many doctors have been performing cosmetic procedures for years, on thousands of patients – but, because they never had that initial training, they may use outdated approaches that are not optimal for patient results.
Instead of the arbitrary “100 surgery rule,” a more effective law governing California plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons would:
- Focus on education, certification, and accreditation to limit cosmetic surgery to surgeons with enough relevant technical training to screen patients appropriately and operate safely
- Emphasize facility accreditation
- Mandate better patient education about expected outcomes and appropriate recovery practices
- Establish regular reviews to create and evaluate minimum safety and procedure standards as the field continues to develop
- Better regulate nonsurgical enhancements like dermal fillers
- Address issues surrounding surgeons with abnormally high complication rates, and those frequently penalized for legally, ethically, or medically questionable practices
- Limit experimental cosmetic procedures to surgeons with the training as well as the oversight to monitor and validate their efforts
These are some of the main factors that should take priority as we evaluate surgeons, and should also give you a better idea of the right questions to ask so you won’t be fooled by someone with the quantity but not the quality of work you’re looking for in a surgeon. The first steps: