THE SOURCE OF ERRONEOUS INFORMATION
Twitter is the preferred social media channel on which medical and health information is shared and exchanged worldwide, according to the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Its popularity is such that the medical community in the US keeps a close eye on the information being shared via Twitterverse and consequently issues a bi-annual report on its findings.
Unsurprisingly, the bulk of ‘informed’ posts spew misinformation – 80%, in fact. Shocking as it may seem, the advice provided by board-certified Plastic Surgeon Perth receives a pitiful approval rating, around the 11,2% mark (2018). Little has changed since. Few users deem the guidelines issued by experienced professionals as worthy of attention.
COUNTER-ACTING THE HYPE – A SCRAMBLE FOR CREDIBILITY
While Twitter is known as fertile ground for sprouting explosive, emotionally charged assertions, one would assume that choosing a practitioner to perform a potentially life-threatening procedure would prompt a call to extreme caution.
Apparently not. The Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons suggests using emotive words and ‘feel good’ phrases to encourage certified practitioners to appeal to their audiences.
The question is more complex than compiling a list of ‘positive, happy’ words in an attempt to dispel a pervasive, and frankly, harmful mindset.
HOW DO UNETHICAL DOCTORS ATTRACT CLIENTS?
For one, under-qualified ‘cosmetic surgeons’ run super-smooth, enticing social media campaigns that attract thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of followers. By posting pictures of their most attractive young patients, sporting skimpily-attired bodies tailored to trend, they convince the undiscerning to buy into the visual evidence that is, no doubt, contorted to produce the desired perception.
The human anatomy does not support the extreme modifications touted as a realistic possibility in the hands of a ‘brilliant surgeon.
Conversely, any doctor pushing the boundaries of safety is unethical, motivated by profit and social clout.
More and more men and women fall into the trap of committing to seedy campaigns that promise transformation at a heavily reduced cost.
Unethical practitioners exploit the perceptions of a hopeful clientele, whether at home or abroad.
Incompetence may be disguised under a host of alluring titles: cosmetic doctor, aesthetic surgeon, cosmetic surgeon, facial cosmetic surgeon, cosmetic specialist – the list goes on.
‘COSMETIC’ DOES NOT MEAN ‘QUALIFIED TO PERFORM A COSMETIC PROCEDURE’
No individual enters shark-infested waters believing that the chance of being ravaged by a powerful predator whose environment gives it a distinct advantage is slim enough to assume the best confidently.
Which begs the question – why are so many people, especially women, taken in by the promise of a ‘whole new self’ at the hand of a self-proclaimed ‘cosmetic surgeon’?
What is it about the lure of the word ‘cosmetic’ that automatically sows unflinching trust while throwing caution to the wind at the same time?
This article seeks to make the reader wise to the effectiveness and consequent benefit that hype-driven medical advertising holds for many doctors performing procedures that their training does not prepare or qualify them to perform.
You owe it to yourself to make an informed decision by consulting with a board-certified cosmetic plastic surgeon who will offer you the chance to make the right choice.
How you decide to proceed will have a profound, possibly, permanent effect on your wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
WHY ARE UNDER-QUALIFIED PRACTITIONERS PERFORMING COSMETIC PROCEDURES?
There is no such thing as getting a safe cosmetic makeover ‘on the cheap’.
The reason so many under-qualified doctors get away with advertising services that undermine good practice in ‘cosmetic surgery is simply because there are no official limitations preventing a general practitioner from performing surgery or a gynaecologist/obstetrician performing a tummy tuck, or a dermatologist serving a facelift.
Cosmetic surgery is an elective procedure, which suggests that the patient has decided to change something on their fully functional and healthy bodies.
For this reason, medical insurance funds do not cover an expense that does not impair the patient’s life due to developmental abnormalities or accidental injuries.
These restrictions have opened an avenue for under-qualified practitioners to benefit from a cash-only model. It allows them to bypass the system by offering ‘discounted’ services.
Despite all the negative press the cosmetic industry attracts, its growth is undeniable.
The body positivity movement has had no impact on the number of patients opting to undergo cosmetic surgery procedures. Statistics speak for themselves.
WHY BOARD-CERTIFIED SURGEONS HAVE EXPRESSED CONCERN
The cause for concern among board-certified plastic surgeons centres around the proliferation of ‘botched’ surgeries that they encounter with alarming frequency and prove difficult, if not impossible, to fix.
There are also questions concerning often undisclosed, though inordinately high, mortality rates among cosmetic surgery patients due to complications experienced during the operation or aftermath.
Multi-disciplinary, discounted surgeries are performed on out-patients in facilities that do not provide the proper care, both during the procedure and postoperatively.
The media has trivialised the traumatic consequences with which victims of unethical practice exist daily.
With popular TV programmes like ‘Botched’ airing daily, the overall message encourages an almost playful attitude to restorative surgery, focusing on patients that have an obsessive and often distorted belief in the body perfect and are prepared to go to any lengths to achieve the desired result. This flippant approach creates an aura of normality around body-image issues that deserve another kind of treatment.
HOW DO I AVOID MAKING AN ERROR OF JUDGEMENT WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING A COSMETIC SURGEON?
The fundamental, and most important factor that should govern the decision to proceed with cosmetic surgery, revolves entirely around the choice of surgeon.
It’s crucial to distinguish between the different kinds of surgeons who are qualified to undertake cosmetic procedures.
Any doctor who does not hold the relevant certification with the appropriate medical bodies overseeing the industry should be overlooked as a potential service provider. Credentials that include the surgeon’s qualifications, experience and patient reviews are easily obtained.
The most confusing distinction for most prospective clients is understanding the difference between plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons.
Don’t be caught out by doctors using the term ‘cosmetic’ or ‘aesthetic’ in their titles.
Board-certified plastic and cosmetic surgeons are the only medical specialists appropriately qualified to perform cosmetic procedures.
IS PLASTIC SURGERY A DIFFERENT SPECIALTY FROM COSMETIC SURGERY, OR ARE THE TWO SYNONYMOUS?
In a nutshell – board-certified plastic surgeons might decide to extend their training to specialise in cosmetic procedures to add to their services.
Board-certified cosmetic surgeons undergo training with a sole focus on cosmetic procedures.
Each qualification requires the specialist to meet the unique criteria that qualify them to be certified as either a plastic surgeon or a cosmetic surgeon.
Each degree offers the training as a separate specialisation overlaps in one area only: breast augmentation or breast reduction.
Where the cosmetic surgeon re-fashions existing tissue with a focus on aesthetics, the plastic surgeon constructs or re-constructs tissue with a focus on functional and enhanced life quality, in the case of a mastectomy, for example.
A plastic surgeon trained in cosmetic surgery can perform all associated procedures, both reconstructive and constructive, from both an aesthetic and a functional perspective.
WHICH MEDICAL BODIES CERTIFY PLASTIC AND COSMETIC SURGEONS IN AUSTRALIA?
Qualified plastic and cosmetic practitioners are registered with the following medical bodies within Australia:
- The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS)
- Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS)
- Western Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (WASPS)
- Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
- Australian Medical Association (AMA)
International internships with accredited bodies are further evidence that the plastic cosmetic surgeon of choice is reputable.
IS THERE A CERTIFIED, REPUTABLE PLASTIC SURGEON IN PERTH?
Dr Mark Duncan-Smith, former president of the Western Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (WASPS), received his Bachelor degree in medicine and surgery from the University of Western Australia in 1987 and has over 20 years of experience as a distinguished plastic surgeon.
Dr Duncan-Smith is an internationally-trained, fully accredited plastic and reconstructive surgeon with offices in Perth.
He offers his patients a host of solutions with the option to undergo specialised surgical procedures:
- Tummy tuck surgery
- Breast implant surgery
- Face and neck lift
- Medial arm reduction
- Medial thigh reduction
Non-surgical procedures offered by Dr Duncan-Smith include dermal fillers, wrinkle relaxers, and lip enlargement.
Dr Duncan-Smith is a consultant burn specialist affiliated with the Fiona Stanley Hospital Burns Unit. He also lectures and trains future plastic and reconstructive surgeons. All appointments are conducted from his consulting rooms in Bunbury.
IS IT SAFE TO HAVE COSMETIC SURGERY PROCEDURE PERFORMED ABROAD?
There are certain countries that are not viewed favourably as regards cosmetic surgery procedures. Australians should be wary of unethical foreign practitioners offering ‘cheap’ cosmetic surgery packages.
However, there are many local under-qualified practitioners willing to take the chance of performing surgery in back rooms and under-equipped consulting rooms.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHEN SELECTING A PLASTIC SURGEON?
The plastic surgeon is part of an entire surgical team trained to oversee the wellbeing of the patient.
The presiding anaesthetist is potentially the most important doctor in the operating theatre, and reputable surgeons only work with reputable anaesthetists, supported by a team of experienced theatre staff.
Post-operative complications account for a large number of surgery-related deaths. It’s imperative to consider the quality of post-operative care offered by the hospital. Reputable surgeons trust the hospital and the staff caring for their patients.
A WORD TO THE WISE
Taking a chance with your health is short-sighted and potentially life-threatening. The horror stories that abound should serve as a warning to anyone considering a cosmetic procedure.
At least give yourself the peace of mind to place your body in expert care.
Succumbing to the lure of a slick social media campaign designed to make you part with your money with a false promise attached could cost you your life.