After recent news reports of a Chula Vista woman who died after getting liposuction in Tijuana, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Chaffoo is redoubling his efforts to educate patients about the importance of checking surgeon credentials.
La Jolla, CA (June 2010) – Triple board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Chaffoo of La Jolla Skin has been featured regularly in the media, often emphasizing the importance of choosing a surgeon wisely. A recent news story has added even more urgency to the message he's trying to spread among San Diego liposuction patients. The report tells the tragic story of Lourdes Trinidad, a Chula Vista woman who traveled to Tijuana for liposuction, only to die of a heart attack soon afterward. The surgeon who performed her liposuction had a medical license, but was not a board-certified plastic surgeon.
"Lourdes Trinidad was a beautiful, vibrant woman who trusted her health and her appearance to someone who may have been lacking key credentials," says Dr. Chaffoo. "Because of the surgeon's background, Ms. Trinidad's family is left to wonder if her death was a tragic accident or the result of the surgeon's incompetence."
Liposuction is a San Diego plastic surgery procedure that can be used to reduce small pockets of fat that cannot be eliminated with diet or exercise. The procedure, which uses a small tube to break up and suction away fat cells, can address areas such as the thighs, hips, tummy, chest, neck, and more. In response to the popularity of the procedure, many practitioners often with nothing more than a weekend course in liposuction, are offering surgical body contouring. The sheer number of providers can make selecting a provider that much more challenging.
"In the United States and Mexico, any doctor can perform liposuction," explains Dr. Chaffoo. "However, just because doctors are allowed to perform liposuction, they are not necessarily qualified to do so. This may become particularly problematic when people go 'shopping' for a surgeon based on price, not credentials. They're more likely to end up in a third world country or with an unqualified surgeon, increasing their risk of complications."
When performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, liposuction is generally a safe procedure. In fact, due in part to its safety record and attractive results, liposuction was the fourth most popular cosmetic surgery procedure performed in 2009. However, like any surgery, it does carry some risk of complications. A qualified surgeon will have strategies for minimizing the risks and should have an open, honest discussion with each patient about complications and their prevention.
"I strongly encourage patients considering plastic surgery in San Diego to take plenty of time reviewing a doctor's certifications, memberships, education, training, and experience," says Dr. Chaffoo. "And this is doubly true if you are planning to cross the border for surgery in Mexico. I'd advise patients that they shouldn't ever take what they hear for granted; get out and do the research yourself so that you can be completely confident in your choice of surgeon. Do the work before surgery, and you'll be that much happier after surgery."
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