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Patient safety

Posted on January 15, 2010

THE SAFETY DIAMOND

It is incumbent on all doctors to try to minimise complications and ensure patient safety. This should be a priority for Plastic Surgeons.

The International Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) is committed to endorsing these efforts.

Cosmetic surgery deals with issues of quality of life and self esteem. It is still surgery and like all surgery carries risks.The enormous media attention and misleading advertising tends to trivialise cosmetic surgery so much so that it is likened to visiting a beauty salon or spa.

In trying to ensure that safety is paramount and risks reduced, ISAPS has identified four factors, likened to the facets of a diamond, that must be considered –

  1. The patient
  2. The procedure
  3. The facility
  4. The surgeon

THE PATIENT

Any doctor must ensure that patients asking for procedures have a good general state of health. A full history and physical examination is essential before surgery is agreed and risk facors such as obesity, diabetes, smoking and high blood pressure are identified.

THE OPERATION

Patients must be counselled at to the risks of certain procedures. Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and large volume liposuction are known to carry higher risks of complications than other procedures. Care should also be taken with multiple procedures carried out at the same time.

THE FACILITY (HOSPITAL OR CLINIC)

The back room of a doctors office is no place for cosmetic surgery, nor is a spa or a hairdressers! Yet, few countries regulate where cosmetic surgery procedures actually take place.

Surgery must take place in an accredited, fully equipped and staffed setting with access to all the expertise necessary for patient care.

THE SURGEON

Training and experience count! In many countries, including the UK, any doctor with a license to practise can call themselves a cosmetic or aesthetic surgeon.

A weekend course in facial surgery or body contouring is no substitute for years of training and examinations.

Appropriately trained, experienced surgeons are better able to understand and minimise risk.

So, if you are considering surgery, do ask questions to ensure that you are receiving experienced and expert care. In the UK, appropriately trained plastic surgeons will have a FRCS (Plastic Surgery) qualification and most will be members of BAAPS (The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) or BAPRAS (The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery).

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