The Truth Behind the Safety of Miami Plastic Surgery
- 06 March 2017
- Dr. Mark Broudo
In 2016, a couple of Miami plastic surgery clinics was placed in hot water after the death of a couple of patients – one after undergoing liposuction and another after suffering fatal complications due to a Brazilian Butt Lift.
One patient died on the operating table while undergoing a tummy tuck. She suffered a heart attack towards the end of the operation, even though she was considered to be in excellent health during the consultation.
The other patient died due to complications following a Brazilian Butt Lift.
Though these are different clinics, both were owned by the same people and were considered to be sister clinics. The thing is, these two clinics have had a long history of botched and fatal surgeries over the years. It also received over a hundred complaints from consumers, mostly due to unrefunded deposits from patients changing their minds about getting cosmetic surgery.
In spite of these incidents, the clinics were never fully closed down. Instead, it rebranded and reopened under a different name – and it still exists until now.
Such is the tale of plastic surgery clinics in Florida. Due to lack of proper regulation, it is easy for these Miami plastic surgery clinics to commit mistakes and still emerge scathe-free, ready to serve its next batch of patients – as if nothing happened.
The regulation wasn’t always this lax. Up until 2007, Florida strictly regulated outpatient surgery centers, requiring them to be accredited by the Joint Commission before operating. But over the years, Florida Legislature stripped away many of these regulations, including plenty of consumer protection.
The problem starts with clinic registration. In Florida, most accreditation and licensing rules do not cover plastic surgery clinics. For instance, licensing is only required for clinics where patients undergo procedures under general anesthesia – and that is not the case with many plastic surgery procedures, like minor face treatments. Some licensing rules only apply if there is Medicare or insurance, and this isn’t often a requirement in cosmetic procedures.
If you want to do office-based surgery in Miami, all you need is a personal medical license. You don’t even need a malpractice insurance. And as a licensed physician, you can practice plastic surgery in Miami, even if you don’t have a board certification in plastic surgery.
But Florida is not the only state with an accreditation problem. In fact, many states all over the country do not require licensing or accreditation of medical offices. It is the prerogative of office surgery centers to submit to accreditation by a recognized medical board. If they do not want to be accredited, they can simply submit to inspections from their local Department of Health to ensure patient safety.
To be fair, inspections have become non-negotiables in Florida, following the death of two liposuction patients due to lidocaine overdose. Before, inspections were only mandatory for facilities accepting insurance. Now, the state is authorized to inspect any medical facility – like plastic surgery clinics and medical spas – that removes more than 1,000 cc's of fat during liposuction. This covers almost all major plastic surgery procedures.
Still, this lack of regulation has resulted in numerous patient deaths over the years. The bad news is, the Florida Board of Medicine has no power to restrict the operations or close down a plastic surgery clinic after a patient’s death – unless it is fully owned by a physician. That is the reason why plastic surgery clinics can simply rebrand and continue their business operations despite numerous complaints.
Clinics that don’t file claims for reimbursement from third parties or accept insurance are exempt from oversight by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the licensing of hospitals and other healthcare and medical facilities. That means that clinics only accepting cash, credit, or personal check can’t be vetted by AHCA.
Just last year, Florida state Senator Eleanor Sobel tried to sponsor a bill to tighten state regulation of office surgery centers, but it failed to gain traction. It didn’t help that the budget and staff of the Florida health department had been severely cut down, stripping them of the ability to effectively monitor office surgery centers and physicians.
What You Can Do
Scary as the prospect of undergoing plastic surgery in Miami may be, the fact remains that Miami is still the medical tourism hub of the United States, bringing in more than $6 million revenue in a single year.
You only need to be more discerning of the Miami plastic surgery clinics you transact with to ensure your safety. Here are some tips on what you can do to make sure that you are dealing with reputable Miami cosmetic clinics:
Verify your doctor’s credentials.
Any licensed physician can practice plastic surgery in Miami, so you should always ask for proof of your surgeon’s board certification.
Make sure that your plastic surgeon has been board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This organization is the only certifying board officially recognized in the United States. It signifies that the plastic surgeon you are dealing with graduated from a reputable medical school and completed residency training in both general and plastic surgery.
Know the right questions to ask.
Having an initial consultation with your prospective plastic surgeon is a must. But while this serves as an avenue for your surgeon to explain your surgery and its risks, this should also serve as an opportunity for you to ask questions that may be bothering you about your surgery.
You should ask about your plastic surgeon’s credentials and experience. You should also ask where the procedure will be performed, who will be assisting him, and any other concerns that you may have regarding your treatment and recovery plan.
Check out this guide to know The 10 Questions You Should Never Fail to Ask Your Miami Plastic Surgeon.
Be careful in checking out online reviews.
Online reviews found on Real Self and other similar portals are helpful in assessing the capabilities of your prospective cosmetic surgeon, but you should not treat them as gospel truths. Competitors may plant negative reviews to mar a surgeon’s character. The surgeon himself may even create a fake positive review to enhance his reputation.
Keep in mind that no one is verifying the veracity of these reviews. As such, back up the reviews with research and steer clear of surgeons who gained plenty of bad rap.
Don’t base your decisions on price alone.
The biggest mistake that you can do is to let your budget decide for you. You will surely encounter a lot of enticing promotions and discounts from unknown and inexperienced plastic surgeons that may seem hard to resist, but remember that botched plastic surgery can drastically change your life for the worse.
Along with your budget, also consider your surgeon’s credentials, reputation, and experience when choosing a plastic surgeon. Cheap plastic surgery has its dangers, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
One Miami plastic surgery clinic that prioritizes quality of service and patient safety above all is Face + Body Cosmetic Surgery. Schedule a Free Consultation with one of our reputable and board-certified plastic surgeons to discuss your concerns regarding Miami plastic surgery.