Putting An End To ‘White Coat Deception’

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Responding to recent media attention, the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) is taking action to warn patients about the potential risks of seeking cosmetic treatments from a non-certified plastic surgeon. In an effort to encourage patients to investigate their doctor’s qualifications before undergoing cosmetic procedures, the ASPS just launched a new public safety campaign.

“Patients are getting injured, some are dying during procedures performed by non-board-certified plastic surgeons,” says Malcolm Z. Roth, MD, ASPS President. “We want patients to understand what to ask their doctor and what to look for so that they can maximize their chance of a safe and successful procedure.”

But why are non-board-certified doctors allowed to perform plastic surgery in the first place? Although problematic, it is completely legal in the United States for any physician with a medical license to practice in any medical field. Additionally, California, Florida, Louisiana and Texas are the only four states that enforce “Truth-In-Advertising” measures, which require doctors to be explicit in stating their training.

“There is a misconception among consumers that as long as a doctor is certified in a medical field that he or she is qualified to practice plastic surgery. This is absolutely wrong, and it is dangerous for patients,” says Dr. Roth. People in the industry commonly refer to this misconception as “white coat deception.” Just because a doctor looks the part in a white coat, doesn’t mean they are in fact qualified to preform a cosmetic procedure.

The ASPS has these tips for validating your doctor’s qualifications:
• Ask if your doctor is board certified in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
• Look for a certificate in the doctor’s office that includes the seal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
• If you have any doubts about their certification go to plasticsurgery.org and click on “Find a Surgeon” to see if your doctor is listed on the ASPS site.

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