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Press Release: April 27, 2004

Some Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Patients Continue to Place Themselves at Risk; American Society of Plastic Surgeons Concerned for Patient Safety

Despite ongoing messages from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) that cosmetic plastic surgery is real surgery and must be considered with the same seriousness as non-elective surgery, many patients take unnecessary risks by choosing unqualified professionals to perform their cosmetic plastic surgery in non- accredited office surgery facilities.

"In America, most people spend more time finding the right pair of shoes than they do finding a cosmetic plastic surgeon. You can take back your shoes, but you can't take your face or your life back." said Rod Rohrich, MD, ASPS president. "ASPS is concerned for plastic surgery patients -- please do not take unnecessary chances with your health. Plastic surgery is real surgery. Take the time to educate yourself and find an American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) certified surgeon and have your surgery in an accredited facility."

According to a peer-reviewed study published in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery(r), the official medical journal of ASPS, a facility accredited by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), has the same overall safety record as a hospital surgery facilities. The study provides concrete evidence that office-based surgery can be just as safe as long as it is conducted by board-certified surgeons.

The study found that complications and deaths occurring at office-based surgery facilities are rare. More than 400,000 operative procedures in AAAASF-accredited office-based outpatient surgery centers were studied from 2000-2002. Serious complications were infrequent, occurring 1 in 298 cases or 0.34 percent with death occurring 1 in 51,459 cases or 0.0019 percent, which is comparable to the overall risk of such procedures performed in hospital surgery facilities.

"Surgical outcome reporting is mandatory in AAAASF-accredited facilities and is collected through the first internet database in history designed for this type of information," said Geoffrey Keyes, MD, lead author of the study. "Assessing the quality of care delivered in office-based outpatient surgery facilities had previously been difficult because there was no central data collection system." In addition to patients undergoing surgery in non-accredited surgery facilities, many patients unknowingly have surgery performed by unqualified professionals who lack formal plastic surgery training. "To perform a procedure in an AAAASF-accredited facility, the surgeon must have the credentials to perform that same procedure in a hospital," said Michael McGuire, MD, co- author of the study and president of AAAASF. "That's the gold standard in patient safety."

Ronald Iverson, MD, co-author of the study and chair of the ASPS Patient Safety Workgroup advised, "It only takes five minutes to look up on the Internet if a plastic surgeon is truly ABPS-certified and is practicing in an accredited facility. If those five minutes could save your life, why wouldn't you do it?"

According to The American Society of Anesthesiologists, by the year 2005, an estimated 10 million procedures will be performed annually in doctor's offices, which is twice the number of office-based operations performed in 1995. Although ASPS mandates their members work in accredited surgery facilities, only nine states, California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas, have passed mandatory accreditation of surgery facilities, leaving millions of patients exposed to sub-standard surgical procedures. Tennessee is in the final steps of adopting an accreditation mandate for surgery facilities while Louisiana is also considering an accreditation proposal. Alabama, although it encourages accreditation, does not require it.

"While all surgery carries risks, the bottom line is that this recent study demonstrates patients can and should feel safe when they go to a board-certified surgeon who performs cosmetic plastic surgery in an AAAASF-accredited facility," said Dr. McGuire. "Your safety and life are everything. So please invest the time to find a board-certified plastic surgeon who will offer you the medical expertise you deserve."

For referrals to ABPS-certified plastic surgeons and to learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, call the ASPS at 888-4-PLASTIC (888-475-2784) or visit http://www.plasticsurgery.org.

ASPS is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world and the foremost authority on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. With nearly 5,000 members, more than any other plastic surgery organization, ASPS is the definitive voice of the plastic surgery specialty. Viewed throughout the world as the pinnacle of information for new techniques, advances and plastic surgery trends, the society represents 94 percent of all the board-certified plastic surgeons in the U.S. Ninety-four percent of all ASPS members perform cosmetic plastic surgery and 89 percent of all ASPS members perform reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS, founded in 1931, represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

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