Plastic surgeons have a strong commitment to patient care and education to ensure the well-being of their patients. Thanks to ever-changing technology, the World Wide Web provides plastic surgeons a wealth of resources and information on innovations in the industry, including new techniques, procedures, and equipment for nonsurgical procedures, such as lasers and other energy-based devices.
Associations: Plastic surgery organization Web sites advance education, research, and the quality of surgeons’ clinical practice by sponsoring scientific meetings and disseminating information on current surgical techniques. The organizations also establish and monitor standards of ethical conduct and patient care, serve the public interest by providing accurate and timely information regarding plastic surgery, and promote patient safety. From discussion forums to photo galleries that plastic surgeons can navigate to observe before-and-after photos, the Web sites are helpful resources for physicians.
Some addresses to bookmark are:
www.plasticsurgery.org (American Society of Plastic Surgeons, ASPS)
www.surgery.org (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, ASAPS)
www.aafprs.org (American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery)
Education: One of the ASAPS’s most important activities is continuing medical education (CME) for American Board of Plastic Surgery–certified surgeons in current, state-of-the-art aesthetic procedures. The requirements to obtain the Certificate of Advanced Education in Cosmetic Surgery are fulfilled by earning 150 hours of CME credits in aesthetic plastic surgery over a 3-year period. The certificate is reissued every 3 years, based on the surgeon’s ongoing fulfillment of the CME requirements.
Breast Implants: The safety and effectiveness of breast implants—silicone- or saline-filled—have been controversial for more than a decade. To help plastic surgeons become fully informed about breast implants, the ASPS and the ASAPS have launched the Web site www.breastimplantsafety.org, which offers objective and medically grounded information on breast augmentation and presents the pros and cons of saline implants—currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—as well as the advantages and disadvantages of silicone implants. The site also covers the history of implants, medical research, safety information, and clinical trials.
Liposuction: This procedure has become one of the most popular in the United States—324,000 were performed in 2005. Because of its growing use, physicians must be kept informed about available techniques so that they can discuss with their patients the one that is right for them and—most importantly—its potential for complications.
Energy-based devices: Until recently, lasers were used primarily for superficial facial veins. Over the years, laser surgery has become an alternative to traditional scalpel surgery, and it has been used for a variety of aesthetic purposes, including body-hair removal, tattoo removal, and skin resurfacing.
Laser surgery has also gained popularity because of the benefits it provides to the physician and patient, including reduced risk of infection, “bloodless” surgery with most lasers, less scarring, controlled surgery (limiting treatment to a specific area), and minimal downtime.
Some popular lasers on the market are the Er:YAG laser, which is commonly used for skin resurfacing to improve moderate facial wrinkles, mild surface scars, or splotchy skin discolorations; the Nd:YAG laser, which removes tattoos and deep dermal pigmented lesions and treats pigmented lesions and orange-red tattoos; and nonablative lasers, which work beneath the surface skin layer to improve skin tone and texture and minimize fine lines with few side effects.
Intense pulsed-light devices produce computer-controlled wavelengths and can be adjusted according to a patient’s skin type and condition. This technology is primarily used to treat benign red and brown lesions, remove hair, and rejuvenate facial skin.
For additional information on the medical uses of energy-based devices, visit:
www.aad.org (American Academy of Dermatology)
www.aslms.org (American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery Inc)
Web-site reliability. The Web is a great resource for plastic surgeons to obtain information about their industry. However, it is imperative that physicians judge the reliability and quality of health and medical information they find on the Web. The FDA suggests asking the following questions to help determine the reliability of a Web site:
Who maintains the site?
Is there an editorial board or another listing of the names and credentials of those responsible for preparing and viewing the site’s contents?
Does the site link to other sources of medical information?
When was the site last updated?
Who is providing the information?
Plastic surgeons should remember that the best ways to evaluate health and medical information on the Web are using common sense; consulting with experts; and having an open, questioning mind.
For additional information on how to determine the reliability of medical information on the Web, visit [removed]www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/evalhealthinfo.html[/removed] .