How does ‘free’ plastic surgery sound? Or ‘$8 Botox’ injections? Well, if you have ever considered discount cosmetic surgery, think again. In many cases, you get what you pay for. While flashy billboards promising dirt-cheap prices on plastic surgery have been popping up around the nation, consumers must realize that undergoing surgery is not like buying a used car.
An article on StyleList.com investigated the dangers of discount plastic surgery and why it is so cheap. Call it clever marketing, however, the doctors performing these surgeries may not be board-certified plastic surgeons, and even worse, not even doctors! Have we forgotten the tragic death of former Miss Argentina, who died at age 38 following a butt augmentation? If you have, Solange Magnano died following a blood clot that was a result of undergoing a highly controversial buttock augmentation procedure in Argentina using polymethlymetharcylate (tiny glass beads) instead of the more traditional techniques of her own fat or silicone gel implant.
One of the reasons why doctors can discount surgeries is because they are able to cut costs in the anesthesia department. If you cut an anesthetist, general anesthesia or deep IV sedation, and operating room costs from the mix, the surgery will be fairly cheap, but much less safe. The use of local anesthesia with minimal oral sedation is marketed to consumers as a safer alternative since the patient will not be knocked out; however, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. When doctors perform cosmetic surgery under local, they are able to get away with doing so in a regular medical office which is not regulated in the same fashion as an accredited surgical in-office facility. Mandated safety feature may not be in place if the office is not accredited. This leaves the patient with a much higher risk and even possible exposure to pathogens and greater risk of infection. Another danger arises when you consider that some of the doctors performing these procedures aren’t even trained beyond a 2 day crash course in facelift or breast augmentation and have little to no prior experience in operating on the human body.
It’s not just the working class who are getting scammed by discount cosmetic surgery offers. Celebrities like Bruce Jenner and Priscilla Presley were both victims to botched cosmetic surgery. Jenner underwent a face lift that required reconstructive surgery by another surgeon, while Presley received injections of car-grade silicone from a Brazilian doctor that left her face deformed. Facial injections, the leading non-invasive treatment in the U.S., leave a whole new world of dangers in the cosmetic industry, as doctors can pass off fake Botox® and fillers as the real thing and leave patients deformed.
According to the article, a Florida physician with a suspended medical license got into serious legal trouble after four patients were temporarily paralyzed and almost killed when he administered injections using a raw botulism toxin instead of FDA approved Botox® Cosmetic. One victim was “completely paralyzed and kept alive on ventilators for months, finally recovering with lingering facial paralysis and three permanently collapsed vertebra.”
So how can you make sure you are making the right choice when choosing a cosmetic surgeon?
- Verify that the doctor is a board-certified plastic surgeon
- Check with your state medical board to see if there are any complaints against the surgeon, or if their license may be suspended
- Check online reviews of doctors.
- If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has the average national pricing for cosmetic procedures available on their website.
- Ask around from friends who have had plastic surgery. See who they have gone to and if they liked their results.
- Use online resources like RealSelf.com and MakeMeHeal.com to hear other patients’ plastic surgery stories. This way, you can cross-reference your consultation with the experiences of other people who have undergone the same procedure.
- Trust your gut! If you have a bad feeling about the doctor, that feeling is most likely valid.
To Your Health, Beauty, and Safety,
Dr. Kent Hasen