Those of us practicing and living in Seattle were shocked to hear of the tragic events surrounding a young woman undergoing liposuction at a Lipo Clinic in Bellevue. I’ve included the link to the story as shown on King 5 News. My heart goes out to this person’s family, and if nothing else I think as local plastic surgeons who are committed to both patient satisfaction AND patient safety, we should do our part to help educate patients on how to protect and advocate for themselves, so that such a event may be avoided in the future.
MAKE SURE YOUR PLASTIC SURGEON IS PROPERLY TRAINED AND BOARD CERTIFIED: As plastic surgeons, we are constantly pushed throughout our training to make safety our first priority. This starts in medical school, continues through our 6 or 7 year training programs, and is a critical element in our written and oral board examinations. It’s quite clear that without a “safety first” attitude, in is difficult if not impossible to pass the American Board of Plastic Surgery oral board examination– for these reasons, having a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon perform your procedure can give you at least some reassurance that your surgeon has been trained properly with an emphasis on patient safety in mind.
MAKE SURE THE FACILITY IS FULLY ACCREDITED. You would be surprised how many facilities that perform cosmetic surgery are not fully accredited and properly staffed. While there are several accrediting bodies, one common one (and the one we use for our office) is AAAASF. Being AAAASF-certified means not only that the facility itself is adhering to very strict guidelines and regular inspections, but it also sets guidelines on how patients are monitored after surgery- this is especially critical in liposuction (and in fact in all cosmetic surgery when any anesthesia other than local anesthetic is used) where it is vital that the patient has a caregiver stay with them overnight.
ASK QUESTIONS UNTIL YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE: Patients often feel awkward asking their doctors questions about their procedures, but you shouldn’t. It’s a big investment and commitment to have surgery, so you should feel that you have been fully informed about all aspects of the procedure. If you don’t, or if you feel uncomfortable about the situation in any way, you may want to reconsider your options.