New York is known to be home to many of the world’s top hospitals. There are top doctors in every specialty and plastic surgery is no exception. However, did you know that any practicing medical doctor can try his hand at plastic surgery?
All that’s needed in New York to practice plastic surgery is a shingle saying you’re a licensed physician. That means you can get a gynecologist doing tummy tucks, face lifts, and breast augmentation surgeries in their offices as PIX11 found:
In New York, it is legal for any type of doctor to do any type of cosmetic procedure. And they can do them in non-inspected operating rooms, provided they only use local anesthesia and “mild sedation.”
Liposuction amounts must be kept below 500 ml, or about 2 cups.
But there is absolutely no inspection of these sites, no enforcing of the drug or lipo rules, by anyone.
Shahine, who does liposuction, breast implant and other surgeries has never had his OR inspected or accredited as safe or sanitary, according to the New York State Health Department.
“Office-based surgery suites that do significant operations should be accredited,” said Dr. Hector Vila, a board-certified anesthesiologist who is part of one of the accrediting agencies that inspects office-based surgery centers.
Vila is sounding the alarm about uninspected OR’s, warning that doctors can be putting patients’ lives at risk.
“Surgical offices are trying to do the bigger operations by skirting around the rules by using large doses of local anesthesia, doing multiple surgeries,” he said. “Those large doses of local anesthesia can result in toxicity … there’ve been deaths here in Florida.”
You read that bit right. There’s no need for a surgical suite. There’s no need for anethesiologists, particularly when the law specifies that procedures can be done that way unless you use more than a given quantity of anesthetic (but who’s checking?). There’s no requirement that plastic surgeons have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and the location where the doctor does his procedures does not have to be equipped as one would expect a surgical suite to be.
All of these revelations are troubling enough, but compare the outrage generated by the lack of regulation on plastic surgery with the vitriol and harsh restrictions put in place by the pro life movement on abortion clinics and the people who work there.
There were 14.6 million cosmetic plastic surgeries performed in 2012, which includes 1.6 cosmetic surgical procedures like breast augmentation, face lifts, or tummy tucks. More than 13 million were minimally invasive procedures that include botox, soft tissue fillers, and chemical peels.
For 2011 (the most recent year I could find), there were 1.06 million abortions performed.
The Pro-Life movement has repeatedly claimed that they’re enacting laws that protect the lives of the women by requiring that facilities be equipped in the same fashion as hospitals, that doctors have admitting privileges, and other onerous requirements that have the effect of shuttering abortion clinics in states that have adopted TRAP laws.
Yet, none of these TRAP requirements have been extended to plastic surgery mills where facilities are loosely regulated, the doctors can do tremendous damage, and the death rate for the women seeking out these procedures is far higher than the complication rate from the abortion clinics.
Proponents of the TRAP laws claim that these restrictions are necessary for the health and safety of the women seeking abortions in the state. As I’ve previously noted (in relation to the Texas TRAP law SB 5 debate), abortion procedures are exceptionally safe - and far safer than plastic surgery.
Based on CDC statistics, there were six fatalities out of 827,609 abortions reported to the CDC in 2007 (the last year for which I had figures), which translates to a fatality rate of 1 per 137,000 procedures. Natural childbirth or c-sections have a fatality rate of 12.7 per 100,000. That’s nearly 13 times worse (and there are parts of the country and demographic breakdowns where the fatality rate is even higher than that).
The fatality rate from plastic surgical procedures is nearly 20 times higher than the rate for abortions at 19.1 per 100,000 procedures.
So, if the pro-lifers really cared about the women who seek out medical care, they’d focus on improving the care and facilities that do plastic surgeries, often by doctors who are not even board-certified for plastic surgery.
But as we’ve seen time and again, the TRAP laws and claims of enacting these laws for the health and safety of women have little to do with the safety and well being of women, and everything to do with forcing abortion clinics to shutter and making it impossible to carry out abortions that are legal. They are more concerned with the fetus (or embryo or zygote, depending on how extreme the anti-abortion position - where they consider life to start), and see the woman as merely the vessel for carrying the fetus to term, with no support once the woman gives birth. While the pace of new TRAP laws has slowed this year, the cumulative effect of the recent spate of TRAP laws has been to restrict access to abortions in those states that have enacted them. 26 states have some form of TRAP laws on their books. Of those 26 states, 13 specify the size of procedure rooms, 13 specify corridor width, 11 states require facilities to be a certain distance from a hospital, 9 states require the facility to have an agreement with local hospital to transfer patients should complications arise, and 15 states place unnecessary requirements on doctors who perform the procedures, including requiring admitting procedures or an alternative arrangement or one that requires the clinician to be a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist or eligible for certification.
There are things that women can do to protect themselves from unscrupulous plastic surgeons by checking credentials with American Board of Plastic Surgery or similar credentialing groups - they require periodic re-certification.