Apr 15

Safety in Plastic Surgery: Who can call themselves "Cosmetic Surgeons"?


Recently a number of reports have come out regarding increasing calls for better regulation of plastic and “cosmetic” surgery in Ontario and the UK.  Believe us when we say that in general we are not big fans of socialized, heavily regulated medicine as it is practiced in Canada; which explains why my partner Dr Litner moved to sunny California. However, the proposed legislation seems to be directed at patient safety, and that is what government intervention should be about in our opinion.

In Ontario, as in the U.S., at the moment any medical doctor can advertise himself/herself as a “cosmetic surgeon”; even if they have had no formal surgical training.  The reason being that cosmetic surgeon is a made up concept; there is no specialty in cosmetic surgery. As a result, a growing number of “health care professionals” in Canada, especially family doctors, have been calling themselves “cosmetic surgeons” and carrying out such procedures as liposuctions and breast enlargements, even though they have had no surgical training. This may change due to the tragic outcome of a young lady who underwent liposuction by a “cosmetic surgeon” in Ontario a few months back.

The new proposed rules in Ontario prohibit untrained or uncertified doctors (who are not surgeons) from promoting themselves as surgeons – they will not be allowed to use the word ‘surgeon’ in their title.  We think this is an important step toward patient safety, and perhaps it will help patients from having similar problems as Priscilla Presley (see blog yesterday).

The proposed changes would:
1. Prohibit doctors who are not formally certified as surgeons from advertising themselves as such.

2. Prohibit doctors from advertising themselves as practitioners of medical specializations if they have not been accredited for that (those) specialization(s).

The aim of the rule changes is to give Canadians better information so that they can then decide for themselves whether they would prefer to have “cosmetic surgery” with a surgeon or a doctor who is not a surgeon.  Unfortunately, here in California we have a governor who signed a bill only a year or two ago further deregulating plastic surgery so oral surgeons can do plastic surgery. Hopefully, with time we will see similar movement toward patient safety here in California.

More about the UK tomorrow…

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  1. […] touting this “lifestyle” nip or that “lunchtime” tuck.  Believe it or not, any doctor can perform cosmetic surgery…which often (and nowadays I do mean often) results in gynecologists performing liposuction, […]