Plastic Surgery Infections and Death Spotlight Patient Safety Choices


Dr. Paul Wigoda
tells his plastic surgery patients: think of this as your most careful investment. Health advocates including Dr. Wigoda are emphasizing the importance of selecting a good plastic surgeon after three liposuction patients from the same Maryland facility developed severe infections, including one who died.

The patients contracted severe invasive Group A Streptococcus, or GAS. Dr. Wigoda, who operates a South Florida plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery center, said the tragedies illustrate the importance of choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon if a person opts for elective surgery.

“People are often shocked to learn that any doctor in this state has the legal authority to perform these types of procedures,” Wigoda said. “That just means they won’t get arrested in the operating room. It doesn’t mean they would do a good job, that they have experience performing the procedure or that the procedure itself would necessarily be safe.” In addition to his private practice, Wigoda is chief of Plastic Surgery at Broward General Medical Center – the primary trauma center for Fort Lauderdale. Plastic surgery, he says, shouldn’t be rushed, and many commercial facilities operate like factories. Doctors and support staff perform high numbers of procedures each day, so the chances of human error are enormous. He said he tells prospective patients “to think of this as their most careful investment.” “Think about it this way: You’re shopping for something that will stay with you forever. If you’re going to make this choice, you should do more research on it than anything you’ve ever purchased,” Wigoda continued. “Don’t make your decision because someone is having a sale. It’s just way too important for that.” Investigators are still trying to determine what went wrong in Maryland.

The facility linked to the victims was shut down, but the company that owned it also operates locations in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Penn., King of Prussia, Penn. and Greenville, Del. “Liposuction is actual surgery,” Wigoda said. “It must be done by someone who is trained and skilled in an accredited facility. It can be dangerous with providers who don’t have adequate training or facilities that are not accredited.” “Infections and complications are real concerns – and they can make escalate quickly. There is no such thing as quick, non-invasive cosmetic surgery.” Miami, where Dr. Wigoda grew up and now practices medicine, has had its share of plastic surgery tragedies.

In 2010, a mother of six died a day after liposuction because she was administered too much of the anesthetic lidocaine. In that case, the doctor wasn’t board-certified in any medical specialty. Advertisements typically tout low prices, and some offer half-off coupons on sites like Groupon. The procedures are often performed at a non-accredited facility, under local anesthesia and without an anesthesiologist.

Wigoda said botched procedures by unqualified providers are the most common problems he sees. “I’ve treated patients from all over the world seeking to have previous procedures corrected, and that’s not an ideal approach. It means undertaking another recovery, which is hard on the body, and the overall result may not be as good as if the procedure had been done correctly the first time,” he said. “When you’re doing your homework, ask yourself: Who do I trust with my health?” online casinos nederland