[EDITORIALS]Dying to be beautifulTwo women in their 20s committed suicide together after suffering from the side effects of plastic surgery. It made us realize that doctors practicing plastic surgery should exercise self-discipline now more than at any other time. More than 2,300 doctors in Korea practice plastic surgery. Koreans spend between 700 billion won and 1 trillion won ($833 million) a year on plastic surgery. Even elementary school kids have plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons. Many doctors lured by the potential for huge earnings rushed to practice plastic surgery. The growing lack of expertise has led to an increasing number of deaths on the operating table and a surge in patients suffering from side effects of a botched operation. But despite the hazards, patients are still unprotected by law.
Among all the doctors practicing plastic surgery only 670 are plastic surgeons; the rest are obstetricians, anesthesiologists, ear-nose- throat specialists or generalists. In this case, mistakes and errors are unavoidable. But no accurate information on the potential harm can be found any where. Furthermore, doctors are focusing on advertisements to attract patients, while neglecting to inform them of the possible downside of the procedures and lowering often unrealistic expectations through pre-op consultations. Such negligence has misled patients and opened the door for medical disputes.
We ask the Korean Medical Association to step forward to fix the problem. The association should form and implement an education program to remind doctors practicing plastic surgery of the precautions they should take and their responsibility to their patients. The association also needs to rate doctors in terms of their specialty. Groups advocating consumer rights should provide accurate information on performance evaluations of clinics and doctors based on the outcome of the operations they perform. Most important of all, Korean society should overcome the idea that good looks is everything. As long as the outcome of personal relationships and job interviews is determined only by appearance, it is impossible to ignore the temptation to “fix up” one’s self.