By Dr. Harold Bafitis
I have been honored by multiple opportunities from major television networks to speak about why South Florida has such a widespread issue when it comes to plastic surgery: the epidemic of dangerous plastic surgery mills, with unprecedented numbers of complications and redo surgeries – even mortality. After talking with colleagues and researching the topic, it was interesting to note what was discovered. Having been in practice in South Florida in the West Palm Beach area for over 26 years, I have also noted that over the last 10 to 15 years, at least 40% of my surgeries seem to be the “redo” work of other surgeons. It is normal to have complications, and it is absolutely normal to be taking care of these patients as a plastic surgeon, but it is not normal to have people who have to suffer the consequences of serious medical neglect: infection, disability, disfigurement, and in some instances patients have asked for one surgery and were told one thing, only to wind up having completely different procedures as per their preoperative discussion.
South Florida has distinguished itself by literally being one of the cheapest places to have cosmetic surgery in the United States. This has been brought about by the fact that there are so many non-board certified plastic surgeons and non-plastic surgeons who are undertaking these procedures. It is not uncommon to see an advertisement for a cosmetic surgeon where at every case, a board certified anesthesiologist is present, but the harsh reality here is that the “cosmetic surgeon” is the board certified anesthesiologist. It makes no sense to me why an anesthesiologist should be doing breast implants, but then again- legally, once you get your medical degree, you could unfortunately do whatever you want in your own surgery center. This is why I have decided to put together a checklist to help patients effectively screen plastic surgeons for credibility.
What should patients look for?
- First of all, you should make sure that the surgeon has hospital privileges for everything they do in their office. You can make calls to nearby hospitals, or visit their web sites. Make sure the cosmetic surgeon can do the same procedures in a hospital that they offer in their private surgical center.
- Second, you should be able to see previous patients’ before and after results and, if possible, even speak with some of those patients.
- Third, you should be aware of whether the surgeon’s operative facility is properly certified. The highest certification is for an independent facility to be AAAHC. There is also AAAAHC. This is important for people to note where the surgery is done because their life literally depends on it.
Again, please note, south Florida is unique, and it is not uncommon to have a “blue light special” that you would have at Walmart or Target, advertised as a “great deal” for plastic surgery. If you see that, my advice in coaching to you as a perspective patient is run, and run hard and fast.
We are available to you! If you have any questions, please respond to us via our website or phone number, (561) 475-3669. We are also right here in South Florida, at three locations: the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, and our offices in Wellington and Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter.
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