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Cosmetic Surgery and the Internet

My name is Dr. Lee Corbett, I am a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in my 16th year of practice. I finished my plastic surgery residency in 1998 and so my career has spanned the huge explosion in information that is available on line. Be it via commercial websites, blogs, YouTube, etc…you can find information and/or videos of just about any and every cosmetic surgery that exists. A lot of the information is really good, accurate, factual stuff that is valuable for people who are considering surgery. BUT…there is also an enormous amount of the most ridiculous, outrageous, bunch of misinformation interspersed, making it impossible for someone who is not a Dr. or a nurse to sort it all out. For instance, two days ago I was meeting with a very intelligent, well informed patient who wanted breast implants. When we got into the silicone vs saline debate & she immediately opted for saline. Which is fine because I use both types, but when I asked her why she had eliminated silicone she told me that she had read on a blog that if the implant shell split the gel would leak out into her body, that it was poisonous and it would kill her! I couldn’t believe it. Unfortunately I’ve heard that before. That is absolutely, utterly false. First, the gel is a solid and doesn’t ooze out and secondly it most certainly is not poisonous in any way. That’s just absurd. The other common rumor I hear is that breast implants have to be replaced every 10 years. Again, that’s absolutely ridiculous and untrue. The failure rate on a gel implant at that point is very very low, way less than 5%. No surgeon is going to take out a perfectly good implant just because it is 10 years old. These are just two examples and there are dozens more related to just about any cosmetic operation. So, here’s my advice. Be very wary of what you read on blogs and non medical commercial websites. When you seek out information look at the blogs and websites of Plastic Surgeons. When you do you will notice a trend, and that is that we all say just about the same thing. Why, because our national society, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, has very strict ethics by-laws prohibiting us from dispersing false or misleading information or claims. So, we tell it like it is, not only to keep out of hot water with our society but because we want our patients to have solid information upon which to base their decisions about surgery or medi-spa treatments. And not to blow our own horns too loudly, but as a group we are a bunch of highly trained and educated men and women. Plastic Surgeons go to 4 years of medical school and then complete 7 or 8 years of residency, where, in my era, 100 to 120 hour work weeks were the norm. We live and breathe this specialty and we know our stuff. I’m biased but that makes me feel like my colleagues and I are more qualified to disseminate information about our specialty than anyone else. Ok, I’ll hop off my soap box but it drives me nuts when my patients are scared/misinformed/misled by bogus information.

Lee E. Corbett, MD

Medical Director, Corbett Cosmetic Aesthetic Surgery and MediSpa

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