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When the Business of Beauty Turns Ugly

When the Business of Beauty Turns Ugly

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The cosmetic surgery procedures that you expect will make you more attractive could actually deliver the opposite result. When performed by bogus doctors, under-qualified surgeons, or surgeons who take short cuts to save money, cosmetic procedures can actually leave you physically marred.

CBS News recently reported on an alarming number of patients who entrusted their faces to fake doctors and ended up with disfiguring results, such as permanent lumps and scars from bad facial injections. And ABC News reported on a Florida cosmetic surgery center that left women with deformed breasts following breast augmentation.

Even celebrities are not immune to the disfiguring risks of cosmetic surgery. Tara Reid of the hit film American Pie and rocker Courtney Love recently underwent revision surgery to correct the devastating mistakes made on their bodies during cosmetic procedures. Reid had to undergo both revision breast augmentation and revision liposuction, while Love had revision rhinoplasty to make her nose look natural again.

In San Diego, California, certified fitness instructor Andrea Baron had breast revision surgery three times before her breasts looked and felt right.

Originally, Baron had breast implants placed in 1988, giving her a C-cup bustline. After a hysterectomy in 2004, the plastic surgeon she went to for scar revision surgery told her that her implants were leaking and recommended having them replaced.

Baron underwent revision breast augmentation with him and ended up with poor results.

"I got out of surgery and came out with size A-cup breasts that had a four-inch gap in-between."

According to Baron, the plastic surgeon agreed to fix her breasts, and Baron underwent a second revision breast augmentation. Although her breasts were the correct size following the second revision, the results were even worse than before.

"When the surgeon took the bra off the second day," Baron said, "my left breast fell."

Baron sought out the services of her original plastic surgeon to have her breasts reconstructed again. And while her breasts look and feel better after her third revision surgery, she is left with extensive scarring and a hefty medical bill.

"Price should never be a factor when choosing a plastic surgeon," she said. "You get what you pay for."

Revision Surgery on the Rise

The number of cosmetic surgery patients seeking revision surgery is on the rise. Although there is no central reporting agency tracking statistics on the numbers of revision surgeries performed in the United States or elsewhere, many surgeons say there has been a dramatic increase in the number of patients who turn to them for corrections to botched surgeries.

Based in the upper Midwest, cosmetic surgeon Steve Evelhoch estimates that 25 percent of his patients come in for revision surgery.

"I have seen a steady incline over the last three years," he said.

And as the baby boomer population ages, the business of beauty is becoming increasingly lucrative.

"That's why you are seeing so many people not trained specifically in cosmetic surgery trying to do cosmetic surgery," Evelhoch said.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, nearly 11 million elective cosmetic surgeries were performed last year. That's an increase of 39 percent since the year 2000. With opportunists trying to cash in on the tidal wave of cosmetic surgery cases, those seeking cosmetic surgery should be more careful than ever when selecting a surgeon.

What You Can Do to Minimize Risks

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons urges consumers to do their homework and find out if their potential surgeon:

  • Has five or more years of surgical training and at least two years of plastic surgery training
  • Operates only in accredited surgical facilities such as a hospital or an office certified by the American Association for Accreditation for Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF)
  • Is board-certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

Dr. Evelhoch, however, thinks that board certification may not be enough to ensure that a surgeon is truly qualified to perform cosmetic surgery.

"There are a lot of misconceptions in the public," Evelhoch said.

He noted that there is a huge difference between surgeons trained in plastic surgery and those trained in cosmetic surgery—the latter being better qualified for surgery that is purely aesthetic in nature.

"The key," he said, "is to find a surgeon who is fellowship-trained specifically in cosmetic surgery."

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