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Oregon patients warned about potential risks of plastic surgery

When going into the hospital for a procedure or treatment, patients literally put their lives in the hands of doctors and medical staff. The slightest mistake may have long-lasting consequences. Hospital negligence can result in patient injuries, increased medical expenses or fatalities in extreme cases.

The same is true for cosmetic surgery mishaps. Troubling stories have surfaced nationally of unlicensed people inadvertently killing clients in hotel rooms and other nonmedical settings. This past summer an Oregon doctor was charged with manslaughter following the death of a patient seeking a tummy tuck. The doctor practiced internal medicine and was not a surgeon. The Oregon Medical Board said she did not have equipment to resuscitate the patient or to monitor vital signs.

It may not be uncommon for infections or other bad results to occur as a result of plastic surgery. This may be especially true for patients that seek cosmetic surgery outside the country in places such as Thailand or Mexico. In many instances, patients end up having to pay to get the damage repaired.

A group of plastic surgeons has recently joined forces in an effort to inform patients about the serious risks involved with plastic surgery. Their goal is to protect patients by arming them with knowledge. All of the group's surgeons are members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. They are each required to have at least six years of surgical training. They must also pass exams and are only allowed to operate in accredited medical facilities.

The group is also concerned with doctors who start performing plastic surgery with very little study. Cosmetic surgery is a lucrative business; it is estimated that 18.8 million procedures will be done this year in America and will cost $10.4 billion. According to the surgeons in the cooperative, state licensing boards don't restrict cosmetic surgery practices. This means that any licensed physician can practice cosmetic surgery.

It is hoped that future patients will arm themselves with information to ensure they select a properly trained cosmetic surgeon. The risks associated with cosmetic surgery can be dire, and people should take care to ensure they are placing their trust in capable hands.

Source: Herald Tribune, "Plastic surgeons warn of trade's dark side," Donna Koehn, Oct. 28, 2012

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