Avoiding Complications in Cosmetic Facial Surgery

Posted By American Med Spa Association, Monday, November 2, 2015

By Joe Niamtu, III, DMD 
Complications are a part of surgery, and the only surgeons without them are those who don’t operate. Although no one brags about complications, it should be a topic of open discussion as it is both a learning and teaching process. It is said that if one practices long enough he or she will see it all.

Complications can be relatively benign and manifest as delayed healing or they can be horrific, leading to lawsuit, disfigurement, disability, and death. Sometimes bad things happen to good doctors but many complications can be avoided by learning from your own problems. An open forum for sharing complications is one of the most valuable teaching tools, especially for novice surgeons.

It is said, tongue in cheek, that the most dangerous time to have surgery is right after an annual meeting! There may be some truth in that as annual meetings are forums for unveiling new techniques and technologies. It is the novice surgeon that is most at risk for “post annual meeting complications” due to their naïveté. More seasoned surgeons have developed a procedural skepticism. Procedural skepticism is not a bad thing; it serves as a filter for frivolous treatments or technologies. I often tell patients, “Wait one year before doing a miracle procedure you see on TV.” Frequently, a year later no one is doing that procedure, because it was ineffective. It is great for doctors to stay on the cutting edge and evaluate all new procedures or technology with an open mind while searching for evidence-based support. Staying on the “bleeding edge” however, can be a slippery slope. I have seen the situation too many times where a doctor purchases a new machine that “delivers maximum results with minimum downtime and will drive patients to your door.” The doctor purchases the device, begins marketing “big results with no downtime or surgery” and his or her schedule becomes packed with new patients seeking this miracle treatment. The office is so busy with the new device and smiles are ear-to-ear. Then—about two to three months into the treatments—patients begin presenting to the office unhappy with the lack of the results they anticipated. Some want their money back, others will leave negative reviews and still others will never return to that office because they have lost trust. Now the doctor is stuck with negative marketing and a $150,000 device that is being used as a doorstop. This is a business complication.

Read more at Modern Aesthetics.