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Physician group warns of plastic surgery risks

CosmeticsSep 14, 06

Undergoing cosmetic surgery performed by someone who’s improperly trained can result in scarring, burning and, in some cases, even death, a group of dermatologic surgeons warns.

The American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) has launched a public safety campaign in response to what it calls the “alarming national trend” of non-physicians performing procedures such as Botox injections, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion and chemical peels.

“What we’re seeing is an overwhelming preponderance at this point of these untrained people getting their hands on these devices and using them,” Dr. Renata Hirsch, a dermatologic surgeon in practice in Boston and ASDS spokesperson, told Reuters Health. “Top offenders are these pseudo medi-spas.”

According to the ASDS, 41 percent of its members say they have seen an increase in patients seeking second treatments to repair damage from botched procedures performed by improperly trained individuals.

Hirsch said she has seen people suffer loss of pigmentation, particularly people of color who receive treatments from individuals who don’t know how to set the laser level properly. There have also been cases of practitioners using “gray market,” untested, versions of materials injected into the skin to fill wrinkles. Also, Hirsch adds, a procedure may simply not work.

According to the ASDS, a physician should always perform a cosmetic surgical procedure—and the physician should be a dermatologist, rather than a family practitioner or gynecologist, Hirsch notes. If a physician is only supervising the procedure, he or she should be on-site and available to respond to emergencies.

Hirsch also advises buyers to beware of procedures offered at cut-rate prices. “This is just one of those times when you just don’t want to get a bargain.”

Someone considering having a cosmetic surgery treatment should also ask what procedures are in place in the case of an emergency, the ASDS advises. Consumers should also ask about the training of a person who will perform the procedure, complication rates with that procedure, and whether they can see before and after photographs of another patient who had a similar procedure, the group adds.

“If they react badly to you asking those questions, that should be a red flag,” Hirsch said.

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