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Groupon plastic surgery offers: don’t compromise safety for price

Dancing lessons, dinners, theatre tickets, massages, cruises and flat irons can be purchased on Groupon with variable results. But if you want to remove your saddlebags, you might want to do some research before pushing the “buy” button. The one area in which you should never seek discounts or shortcuts is your health. Further, some legal experts say that it is violation of state and federal laws for doctors to split fees with Groupon.

There was an article in UK’s Guardian about a Groupon ad for discounted cosmetic surgery, including breast enlargement. Britain’s Independent Healthcare Advisory Service banned the Groupon deal “because it encouraged recipients to hurry into a decision to purchase cosmetic surgery.” But making an impulsive decision to lock in a price is just one of the things that can go wrong. A Redbook article about what not to buy on Groupon, August 2012, says “the quality of care – not how deep the discount – should always be your first consideration.” Redbook pinpoints three Groupon deals to avoid:

Lasik surgery. Since offers like Groupon are usually available for 24 hours or until they’re sold out, there’s no time for a consultation to determine if you’re a good candidate. For example, if you have chronic dry eyes, Lasik may not be for you. Further, there’s no time to evaluate the provider’s credentials, let alone check out his bedside manner.  The founding director of Boxer Wachler Vision Institute in Beverly Hills says, “If you have a bad Botox experience, it lasts three months. But if LASIK surgery goes wrong, you might have to live with the results for the rest of your life.”

Liposuction. A recent Groupon ad offered liposuction for $2,999, representing about a 60 percent discount from the usual price. However, taking a chance on liposuction means risking scarring, skin discoloration, nerve damage and – if too much fat is removed – uneven lumpy bits. A poorly-executed procedure can take two or three additional costly surgeries, upping your total expenditure and causing needless discomfort, anxiety and downtime. A prominent plastic surgeon warns, “Sometimes the results are impossible to correct.”

Laser upper eyelid lift. This Groupon offer for laser upper eyelid lift was potentially dangerous. In this procedure, droopy eyelid skin is removed. Groupon stated this was a “relatively minor” surgery that could be done in an hour, requiring only a “mild oral sedative and a little local numbing medicine.” Redbook interviewed the chairman of the department of plastic surgery at the University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center who said most reputable plastic surgeons don’t even perform this technique because of the risk of burning the skin or eyes. Other complications include infection and temporary or permanent vision loss.

Answer these questions before undergoing any surgery: 1) Are you an appropriate candidate? 2) Is your doctor board-certified in the appropriate specialty? 3) Does the doctor have a long track record of performing the procedure? 3) Will the surgery be performed in a safe and licensed facility? 4) Do you have realistic expectation for the results and are you aware of possible complications? The decision to undergo elective surgery should be a slow and measured process.

29, October, 2012Dr. Richard Schwartz

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