Tag Archives: cosmetic surgery

Regulations failed to slow cosmetic surgery deaths

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Bob LaMendola and Sally Kestin, of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, report that regulations put in place a decade ago have not reduced the number of deaths related to cosmetic surgery in Florida.

They report that at least 32 people have died in the past 10 years soon after having cosmetic surgery – including “four South Florida mothers in their 30s who went under the knife in the past two years,” according to state incident reports and police records. The causes of death among the 32 people included poor medical care, reactions to anesthesia and heart and breathing problems.

A Sun-Sentinel series in 1998 by Fred Schulte and Jenni Bergal revealed 34 deaths in the preceding 12 years, some of which were “blamed on lengthy surgeries involving multiple procedures at doctors’ offices that were not then being regulated.” (Full disclosure: I was responsible for the online presentation of that series.)

Following the series, the Florida medical board put in place rules that limited lengthy operations, liposuction procedures and overnight stays and included regular inspections.

LaMendola and Kestin point out that the atmosphere around cosmetic surgery has changed in the intervening years:

One reason for the continued deaths may be a huge growth in cosmetic surgeries, but some surgeons, malpractice attorneys and industry experts say problems persist, and the state needs to do more.

Senate idea: Tax plastic surgery to pay for reform

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Peter Cohn of NationalJournal.com reports that the Senate Finance Committee has discussed, among other things, a 10 percent tax on the sort of cosmetic surgery that has no compelling medical reason.

performing-surgeryThe tax would build on a 1990 law that keeps folks from getting itemized deductions for cosmetic surgery “unless the surgery or procedure is necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or a disfiguring disease.”

It also mentions that, while several states have tried to tax cosmetic surgery, on New Jersey has succeeded. However, Malcolm Roth, vice president for health policy and advocacy at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, asserts that the “New Jersey tax has only brought in about 25 percent of anticipated revenue since it was enacted in 2004.”

Cohn’s report also includes some arguments against the tax, including the assertion that it would discriminate against the women who make up an overwhelming majority of plastic surgery patients.