Q. One of my friends just had liposuction and ended up in the hospital. She had surgery at one of those discount clinics. She ended up with a perforation of her bowels and her doctor could not attend to her in the hospital. How can that happen, and what should I look for to avoid this?
A. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon condition in South Florida. Many patients seek surgery from clinics that are less expensive and often cut corners to save money. In the past several weeks, one of my partners has admitted three patients with complications from some of these clinics.
To avoid this issue, do your homework. Go see the clinic where your surgery will take place. Ask to see if the operating room is certified and accredited. If you’re still concerned, ask to see the operating room.
It is also important that your doctor be a board-certified facial plastic surgeon or plastic surgeon if you’re about to have a facial or body procedure. Another important question to ask: Where do the doctors have privileges should there be an emergency that needs hospitalization? This question is important because in an emergency situation, your doctor would be the best person to take care of you. While doctors do attend to patients that are not their own, treatment is more difficult.
Another important question: Who will handle the anesthesia? Is it a board-certified anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist or a nurse who’s giving you sedation? Does the facility have the appropriate resuscitative equipment that is needed should there be an emergency? Do they have the appropriate drugs to treat malignant hyperthermia? While this is rare, many facilities don’t have this medication because it’s expensive and it often expires.
While all the above questions may make you nervous, understand that plastic surgery done at a certified facility with board-certified physicians is generally a very safe process.
Dr. Carlos Wolf is a partner in Miami Plastic Surgery and is board certified. Email your questions to him at Cwolf@miamiplasticsurgery.com.