Plastic Surgery Complications, Deaths Are Rare
American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reminds consumers that plastic surgery is real surgery and outlines several important recommendations when considering plastic surgery.
"The death of a patient is always tragic and devastating for all involved, particularly the patient's family and the medical team," said Richard D'Amico, MD, ASPS president. "However, we don't want to unnecessarily frighten the public. While this situation is rare, the decision to have a plastic surgery procedure is serious. No-risk surgery doesn't exist."
ASPS recommends six essential points when considering any plastic surgery procedure:
1. Do your homework: Research the procedure, the benefits and the risks.
2. Have realistic expectations: Ask your plastic surgeon about the benefits and risks of your surgery; discuss your expectations and understand side effects and recovery time.
3. Be informed: Talk to patients who have had your procedure so you know what to expect.
4. Ask tough questions: Consult with your plastic surgeon and discuss your full medical history to determine the most appropriate treatment.
5. Choose an ASPS Member Surgeon: ASPS Member Surgeons are qualified, trained and properly certified. They adhere to a strict code of ethics, receive continuous education and operate only in accredited facilities.
6. Confirm accreditation of outpatient surgery center: If your surgery may take place in an outpatient surgery center, be sure it is accredited. ASPS requires that all members who perform surgery under anesthesia must do so in a facility that meets certain criteria, such as the appropriate accreditation and state licensure.
"It's one thing to have training, but it's another to have your competency tested. This is why board-certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is so crucial," said Dr. D'Amico. "As a patient, you should ask yourself, 'Why wouldn't this surgeon be board-certified in plastic surgery?'"
All ABPS-certified physicians have:
-- Graduated from an accredited medical school;
-- Completed at least five years of surgical residency training, usually three years of general surgery and two years of plastic surgery;
-- Practiced plastic surgery for two years; and
-- Passed comprehensive written and oral examinations covering both the cosmetic and reconstructive areas of the specialty of plastic surgery.
At the highest level of care, every surgery has risks as well as benefits. The ASPS recognizes the physician-patient relationship is one of shared decision-making. This decision-making process is called informed consent. The ASPS "Statement of Principle on Informed Consent" details the information that should be discussed and understood by the patient, including: details of the surgery, benefits, possible consequences and side effects of the operation, potential risks and adverse outcomes as well as their probability and severity; alternatives to the procedure being considered and their benefits, risks and consequences; and the anticipated outcome.
A 2004 study published in the official medical journal of the ASPS, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, found that deaths occurring at office-based surgery facilities are rare--less than 1/4 percent. More than 400,000 operative procedures in accredited office-based outpatient surgery centers were studied from 2000-2002. Serious complications were infrequent, occurring 1 in 298 cases or 0.34 percent with death occurring 1 in 51,459 cases or 0.0019 percent, which is comparable to the overall risk of such procedures performed in hospital surgery facilities.