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The Surgical Artist's Blog

Dr. Nease interviewed on USA Today front page article about Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeons

Posted by Jennifer Deal on Sep 14, 2011 9:01:00 AM

I was surprised to read this article today on the front page of USA Today after being interviewed several months ago by the primary reporter. I was initially excited to give my thoughts and opinions about cosmetic surgery training in the United States and expected an article with two sides but fair and balanced.  Unfortunately, there are many problems with the reporting and inaccuracies portrayed as truth. The single quote from me was pulled from about a 45 minute interview, which typically ends up helping the motive of the reporter and does little to nothing to accurately represent the speaker's views. Interesting topic but the article ends up being unhelpful to the general public, and possibly even harmful because choosing any surgeon, medical doctor, or any professional for that matter based on the initials behind his name NEVER guarantees that the work he/she will do for you will turn out well.  You would not hire a painter just because he is a member of a specific painting organization or club, would you?  No, you would check out his work, ask friends for a referral and do your research.  Then you make a decision based on what you've gathered.  This "unbiased" article is clearly being promoted by a single group, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), and the reporter is aiding their cause.

The AMA says you should choose your physician based on their education, training, experience and proven clinical competence. This is also how hospitals and surgery centers grant privileges to surgeons. A specific board certification is specifically not mentioned or used as criteria. The federal government agrees with this policy.  I have privileges at 4 area hospitals and 2 surgery centers to perform facial plastic surgery, head and neck reconstructive surgery and general cosmetic surgery.  The most important thing to know about your surgeon is the number of cases he/she performs each year in regards to the specific procedure that interests you.  It is a well known fact (not my opinion) that many other surgical specialties perform cosmetic surgical procedures and in greater numbers than plastic surgeons across the country.  These skills are commonly a part of their ABMS residency training (ex. ENT docs learn facial plastic surgery) or in post-graduate fellowship training programs.  For example, dermatologists have contributed to the advances in liposuction more so than any other specialty, including plastic surgeons, over the last 28 years.  Several published studies have also shown that complication rates for liposuction are lower when performed by dermatologists in an office-based operating suite than in a hospital by a plastic surgeon.


The confusion comes from the ASPS lumping all cosmetic surgeons together and highlighting the bad apples while ignoring all the good ones, which are more common but less interesting to the media like USA Today.  Those of us who are well-trained and board certified cosmetic surgeons should not get a bad rap for those who claim to be "cosmetic surgeons" but who actually have little training and are working outside of their scope of specialty.  The actual cosmetic surgeons I know are experts in their field and come from several backgrounds, including dermatology, ophthalmology, general surgery, head and neck surgery and oral and maxillofacial surgery.  I just spent a week in Hawaii at the fall meeting of the AACS where I interacted with about 100 of these guys from across the country and listened to many lectures, seeing their work first hand.  Most are excellent and dedicated to their profession and have great compassion for their patients, are dedicated to safety and strive for outstanding aesthetic outcomes.  And they operate in accredited operating rooms and in hospitals, too! (not in garages, basements and hotels like the media would have you believe is commonplace).  These cosmetic surgery experts are busy and routinely perform well over 1000 major procedures each year, just like me, while most plastic surgeons perform mainly reconstructive surgery and far fewer cosmetic procedures.  They don't want you to know that, but it is the truth.  My fellowship training program included 100% aesthetic surgery, and I performed over 750 cases during that dedicated year including face lifts, breast augmentation and lifts, tummy tucks, liposuction, rhinoplasty, eye lifts, fat transfer, body lifts, and laser applications.  The ASPS only requires 55 cosmetic cases during their training to sit for their prestigious board examination. This is what the public really needs to know. I also believe there are many good plastic surgeons out there, but the message that all plastic surgeons guarantees great results is misleading.


Just based on the statistics alone, I'd choose someone like me.


When choosing your aesthetic surgeon, compare experience and results, not letters behind the name or membership in what appears to be a fancy club.  And pick the surgeon who is the right fit for you, one that makes you comfortable and who clearly has the expertise you deserve.  Please call any time if you would like more information.  I'm happy to talk about this subject and the path to board certification in Cosmetic Surgery with you in great detail.

Topics: In The News, Face, Breast Augmentation, Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon, Tummy Tuck, Liposuction, Patient Care & Experience, Body, Breast