Online Surgery Auctions -- ASAPS Position
New York, NY (October 3, 2000) — Websites that allow consumers to post requests for plastic surgery online, in fact bidding for a surgeon over the Internet, have stimulated significant debate. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) was the first major organization to flag the potential dangers of such sites (December 1999). Members of ASAPS are committed to patient safety, which includes assurances of informed consent before the undertaking of any surgical treatment.
Online surgery auctions bypass traditional referral systems. They provide no way to verify credentials, competency, or patient satisfaction with the services offered, and are fraught with possibilities for abuse. Patients making a decision to undergo cosmetic surgery based on price may neglect to consider factors more important than cost when selecting a surgeon: board certification recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, hospital privileges to perform specific procedures, and ambulatory facility accreditation.
As the largest professional society of surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and who specialize in cosmetic plastic surgery, ASAPS is committed to enhancing patient safety and education regarding both the benefits and risks of cosmetic surgery. Specifically, ASAPS' member surgeons are committed to enabling patients to give informed consent, which is an informed decision to proceed with a medical treatment or surgical procedure, by providing all the facts and information necessary to make an educated decision.
Components of informed consent go far beyond price and should include the following: the purpose of the proposed procedure; a summary of the surgical approach; expected benefits and limitations; a description of postoperative recovery; possible complications and known side-effects, including those that are rare; risks associated with anesthetics, analgesics, and antibiotics; appropriate alternatives, including the option of no treatment or surgery at all.
While online auction sites sometimes propose a face-to-face meeting before surgery, once a prospective patient has made plans to meet with a surgeon based on an agreement on price-- perhaps traveling some distance at his or her own expense--an implied commitment to the procedure has been made by both physician and patient. ASAPS' member surgeons feel the appropriate preoperative physical and emotional evaluation of the patient may be seriously compromised by this arrangement.
Even among qualified plastic surgeons, outcomes vary from one physician to the next. ASAPS' member surgeons believe that aesthetic plastic surgery must not be regarded as a commodity, such as an airline ticket, but rather as a medical treatment that must be carefully researched before being undertaken. Patients considering cosmetic surgery should consider first and foremost the qualifications of their plastic surgeon to perform cosmetic surgery and, specifically, the procedure they are considering undergoing. Fully informed consent is in the best interests of both patients and physicians.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.
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