Truth in Advertising

Plastic Surgeon Serving Indianapolis, Indiana

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If you are a movie fan, you will probably remember Jack Nicholson's famous line in "A Few Good Men" when he told Tom Cruise, "You can't handle the truth!" Apparently he was not alone in that thought.This has also been the attitude of many non-plastic surgeons who advertise their services under the moniker of "cosmetic surgery."

Lawmakers in Florida decided that this practice has gone too far and have structured a remedy in the Truth in Medical Education (TIME) law. Under this law, health care practitioners must identify the license under which they practice. Any misrepresentation of medical qualifications is a violation of the "federal unfair trade and practices statutes" and would result in a $10,000 fine.

What this law means, in Florida at least, is if you go to a "medi-spa" for a Botox injection, the person doing the injection has to display or identify his or her credentials. If the practitioner does not demonstrate some sort of a license, such as MD or RN or Medical Assistant, then said license probably doesn't exist.

Another important aspect of this statute is that a physician cannot claim board certification unless he identifies the specialty in which he is certified. In other words, a physician cannot advertise himself as "board certified, specializing in plastic surgery" if he is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. This is not meant to single out gynecologists, the majority of whom would never consider such a practice, but this type of misrepresentation is practiced by several specialties with alarming regularity. This law also restricts use of the term board certification to those specialties recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, which hopefully will limit the practice of forming new, unsupervised organizations containing "cosmetic surgery" in their name whose main purpose is to certify their members.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has publicly supported the Florida TIME law, praising it for raising public awareness of these questionable practices and increasing the transparency of qualifications for those who want to practice plastic surgery, which can only lead to more protection for patients. The ASPS is currently working to support a federal law that would provide similar protections to plastic surgery patients on a national level, but at this time it is currently residing in a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. If you believe in the importance of this issue as I do, contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to support this bill. Until we have this type of protection on a federal level, the catch phrase for prospective plastic surgery patients must unfortunately be: "Let the buyer beware."

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