No Spin Live host Dr. William P. Adams, Jr. is joined by board certified plastic surgeons Dr. Jason Pozner of Boca Raton, Florida, Dr. Luis Rios of Edinburg, Texas, and Dr. Charles Messa of Westin, Florida for a discussion about a Miami physician disciplined by the Florida Medical Board following years of reported patient injuries and at least one patient death.
In December of 2017, a 40 year old patient of Dr. Arnaldo Valls, died after he performed liposuction and fat transfer as part of a procedure commonly known as the Brazilian Butt Lift. Previously, in June of 2016, another patient of Dr. Valls had developed a severe blood system infection due to complications during a similar cosmetic procedure. Both patients were operated on in a clinic located in a Miami strip mall.
Surgeon Credentials Matter
“Patients need to be aware of who they are going to,” Dr. Pozner stresses. “This was a situation of a non-plastic surgeon doing plastic surgery in a clinic. Sometimes these clinics in Miami have problems, change their name and go out of business on a weekly basis.”
As it stands now, any doctor in Florida can advertise that they offer plastic surgery procedures such as the Brazilian Butt Lift or a breast augmentation, whether or not they have received training or been certified by a reputable medical board. While there are many doctors claiming to be certified as cosmetic or plastic surgeons, not all certifications are equal.
Dr. Adams points out that it can be hard for patients to tell who is properly credentialed. In fact, a quick search on the popular website RealSelf turns up nearly 200 positive reviews on the doctor in question. Potential patients reading these reviews may feel a false sense of security if they don’t take a deeper look into his credentials (or lack thereof).
Dr. Valls was also accused by the Florida Medical Board of misleading patients by using paperwork containing logos of the American Society of Plastic Surgery, although he was not a member and had no formal training in plastic surgery.
Dr. Messa suggests one way to reduce the amount of dangerous plastic surgery taking place in Florida would be to require doctors advertising plastic surgery procedures to be certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The ABMS is the leading organization in the United States overseeing physician board certification. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is one of 24 medical specialty boards recognized by the ABMS. Surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery have undergone at least six years of specialty training in plastic surgery and have passed oral and written examinations covering the breadth of plastic surgery. Patients can visit the American Board of Plastic Surgery’s website to check that their surgeon is certified.
“If you have someone saying, ‘I’m board certified,’ the board has to be an ABMS board,” urges Messa.
Surgical Facility Accreditation Matters
Dr. Pozner points out that the strip mall clinic where the patient death occurred had undergone several name changes over the years. Name changes in strip mall clinics are not uncommon in Florida and are often a response to bad press following patient complications or bad patient reviews online.
Just as there are certifications for credentialing physicians, there are also certifications to ensure facilities are safe places for patients to undergo plastic surgery procedures. Patients having procedures done outside of a hospital environment should look into the safety of the facility where their procedure will take place.
The Joint Commission (JCO), the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) are three organizations that certify hospitals and surgical centers. “All of these specialty certifying boards require board certification and ownership by a physician,” explains Dr. Messa. By requiring all plastic surgery facilities to have accreditation by one of these organizations, Messa believes, “99-100% of all these chop-shop centers wouldn’t show up all over the place in South Florida.”
Do the Research to Protect Yourself
In the right hands, plastic surgery procedures are extremely safe. In the wrong hands, they can be deadly.
“He doesn’t have the training to be doing this, he shouldn’t be doing this, and he’s doing it in a place where you shouldn’t be doing it,” summarizes Dr. Rios, pointing out the fact that it took 16 months for the Florida medical board to take action against this doctor after his actions resulted in a patient’s death. “It always takes these extremes for anybody to do anything about it,” agrees Dr. Adams. “It’s really unfortunate somebody died, but there were probably also hundreds that were harmed and had terrible results.”
Advertising, websites and even paperwork can be misleading. Patients should not simply rely on the authorities to keep them safe. Instead, anyone considering plastic surgery needs to take steps to protect themselves by looking into the credentials of their surgeons and their respective surgical facilities prior to surgery.