Touted as a medical breakthrough, “awake” plastic surgery is gaining popularity in the United States. The advertisements promise lucidity while still offering complete comfort, but for many patients this is simply not the case.
In an article entitled “Nipped, Tucked, and Wide Awake” on MSNBC.com, the question of both lucidity and comfort were called into question. The claim made by surgeons that perform these procedures is that keeping a woman awake allows her to have input in her surgery. However, Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D. and president of the National Research Center for Women & Families points out that a heavily sedated woman is in no position to be giving her surgeon pointers.
For comfort, lidocaine is used. For some patients this is sufficient to numb the pain. However, others have suffered for hours while their procedure is being performed, having no recourse but to scream, and wait for it to be over. What’s more, lidocaine is toxic when not administered correctly, and only an anesthesiologist is sufficiently trained to administer and monitor this drug.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons and “Awake” Plastic Surgery
Michael F. McGuire, M.D., a director of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) said it is “inconceivable that anyone would do such a major procedure under anything less than a light general anesthesia.” American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the organization that certifies plastic surgeons, and according to Dr. McGuire, no board-certified plastic surgeon would ever consider performing one of these procedures.
Dr. McGuire believes that it is both a cost cutting measure and a work-around for doctors who are not plastic surgeons, and who do not have hospital privileges to perform these procedures. Doctors offering “awake” plastic surgery tend to be family physicians, ear, nose, and throat doctors, or other specialists who have no qualifications to perform complex cosmetic procedures. Performing these surgeries in their offices allows them to avoid having to work with a qualified anesthesiologist who would only provide services in a safe, sterile, and certified medical facility.
“Awake” plastic surgery procedures may seem like a good way to save a few dollars, but the ultimate price can be severe pain, inconsistent results and, in tragic cases, death.
Dr. Joseph Fata is board-certified by the ASPS, as well as the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), and the Indiana State Medical Association. He is on the medical staff at St. Vincent Hospital, Clarion North and the Carmel Ambulatory Surgery Center, and has over 15 years of experience in performing safe, effective cosmetic procedures.