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Understanding South Florida Cosmetic Surgery & Patient Education

Deede Weithorn writes on May 2nd, 2018 “I was horrified to read an article in the Miami Herald describing the shady world of cosmetic surgery in South Florida…what stunned me was how little oversight we apply to clinics operating in this field.”

In response to these writings and to shed a bit of light on the subject it should be noted that over the last number of years, regulations have dramatically changed and there has become extensive oversight to office-based surgeries where much of the plastic surgery is performed.

Besides a hospital, one may have elective outpatient surgery in either an accredited Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) which is licensed and accredited by the state or at an Office Based Surgery Center which is under the jurisdiction of the Florida Board of Medicine. Over these last several years, the Florida Board of Medicine has adopted many stringent rules, several as outlined below, that have been put in place in an effort to make Office Based Surgery Clinics a safer place.

  • In an Office Surgery Center, every Florida licensed Surgeon who holds an active Florida license and performs surgery under sedation or under general anesthesia must register with the Board of Medicine. 
  • The Surgeon must be able to document satisfactory completion of training such as Board certification or Board qualification. 
  • The Surgeon must have documented hospital staff privileges at a licensed hospital within 30 minutes distance and be able to perform the same procedures in that hospital as that being performed in the office setting. In other words, if a particular Surgeon does not have privileges to perform a face lift at the hospital, they are not permitted to perform this surgery at the Office Based Surgery Center.

The Office Based Surgery Center is thoroughly inspected each year to review safety, procedures, protocols, equipment and the medications. Most all Florida Plastic Surgeons adhere to these regulations and oversight.

We can attest to the fact that the inspections are thorough. Dr. Gershenbaum’s new office and the Brickell Riverfront Surgery Center has been built to standards that far exceed that of an Office Based Surgery Center, and we are currently in the process of obtaining our State certification as an Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) from the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA Accreditation).

Understand that clinics who perform procedures under strictly local anesthesia, or even local anesthesia and oral medication sedation, are not subject to this oversight. Those who are contemplating more extensive plastic surgical procedures should ensure they are going to a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who has local hospital privileges, who is listed with the Florida Board of Medicine in a credentialed Office Based Surgery Center and they have an anesthesia provider that is either a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist or an Anesthesiologist. 

It’s worth a mention to also differentiate between a board certified plastic surgeon and perhaps their partners who own and operate their own center versus a business owned office-based surgery center, with several surgeons for hire who typically run a business based on mass marketing, low prices and high volume. Although these business-owned and operated clinics are obliged to follow the same guidelines, I think it suffices to say, that more often than not, these business-owned and operated centers are where most of the serious problems are more likely to occur.

For those contemplating plastic surgery, please do your homework, be smart, don’t cut corners, don’t have too much surgery at one time just because the surgeon agrees too, and be very mindful of where you are having your surgery performed!