Who is Really Providing Plastic Surgery?

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The increase in non-plastic surgery providers offering cosmetic procedures may be attributed to the rising demand of the Baby Boom generation, however researchers caution this may lead to an unsafe trend that threatens patient safety.

Arlington Heights, IL -- A new study confirms that plastic surgeons are not the only medical professionals who are performing plastic surgery procedures, and while some of them may be qualified to do so, many others may not be. To better demonstrate the prevalence of such providers, researchers from Loma Linda and Redlands, CA performed a demographic analysis of physicians providing invasive and minimally-invasive cosmetic treatments in Southern California. Names and addresses were collected through manufacturer sales lists and the training background and board certification of all physicians were gathered.

The research revealed that while plastic surgeons, dermatologists, and otolaryngologists were among the top specialties performing cosmetic procedures, primary care physicians were the third largest group to provide hyaluronic acid fillers and the fourth largest group of liposuction providers. Additional results showed that while 94% of those providing invasive cosmetic procedures in Southern California have some sort of surgical training, nearly 40% of those offering liposuction had no specific surgical training in this procedure prior to performing it in their practice.

The expanding demand of the Baby Boom generation for these services may attribute to the increase in non-plastic surgery providers offering them, however the researchers caution that this may lead to an unsafe trend that threatens patient safety. This study appears in the April 2010 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

By the numbers:

  • The San Diego/Los Angeles megalopolis is comprised of nearly 45,000 square-miles
  • In this area, there are 1,876 cosmetic practitioners offering hyaluronic acid injections - 495 of which are trained in plastic surgery
  • In the same area, there are 834 practitioners offering liposuction
  • Nearly 40% of practitioners offering liposuction in Southern California had no specific surgical training in this procedure prior to performing it in their practice
  • Primary care physicians were the third largest group to provide hyaluronic acid fillers and the fourth largest group of liposuction providers
  • According to ASPS statistics, there were more than 245,000 liposuction procedures and more than 79,000 hyaluronic acid procedures performed in 2008

For a copy of the full study or to arrange an interview with a plastic surgeon, please contact ASPS Public Relations at 847-228-9900 or media(at)plasticsurgery(dot)org.

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