ATLANTA - A Channel 2 Action News investigation found Georgia doctors performing cosmetic surgery with little training.
Investigative reporter Aaron Diamant found patients who nearly died from the complications.
The cosmetic surgery Mackenzie Morgan got a few years ago changed her life, but not in the way she planned.
“I wouldn’t say that I was the ugly duckling, but I was the larger duckling, so just wanting perfection,” Morgan said.
She told Diamant the procedures that were supposed to make her feel more comfortable and attractive nearly killed her.
“It made me appreciate life and it made me appreciate myself more, for sure,” Morgan said.
During Morgan’s recovery, she discovered painful, serious bacterial infections in her buttocks and ended up in the ER.
“I couldn’t take the pain anymore and I had a fever that I couldn’t break,” Morgan said.
Susan Brewer showed Diamant pictures of the inch-deep infection in her abdomen from a series of cosmetic weight-loss procedures.
“I don’t want anyone to be hurt like that. It was painful. It was life-threatening,” Brewer said.
Local board-certified plastic surgeon Keith Jeffords said he believes both women fell victim to a growing problem.
“It’s absolute cowboy medicine. It’s Wild Wild West stuff,” Jeffords said.
Jeffords said more and more Georgia doctors are practicing outside their specialties, performing cosmetic procedures in private offices with little formal training.
“I see people who’ve come in who’ve had facelifts by a family doctor, who’ve had their eyes done by a pediatrician, who’ve had their breasts done by an internal medicine doctor,” Jeffords said.
Internationally known plastic surgeon Susan Kolb said the risks to patients are real.
“They tend to have more complications, because they haven’t had such rigorous training and know how to select patients that won’t be prone to these complications,” Kolb said.
The Georgia Composite Medical Board does not put restrictions on medical licenses.
“And so, I think it boils down to ethics and trying to make sure the patient is safe and first do no harm,” Dr. Jean Sumber said.
Jeffords said he worries that in the increasingly competitive world of cosmetic surgery, some doctors are “financially motivated, not patient-safety motivated.”
Shopping for surgeons and making sense of acronyms and different board certifications is left up to patients.
“It’s just buyer beware,” Kolb said.
There is no state regulation of doctors office operating rooms, and state and accrediting agency inspections are optional.
“The regulations that we have, they’re not as stiff as maybe they should be, and that is something that moving to the future we can look at,” State Sen. Gloria Butler, D – Stone Mountain, said.
“Knowledge is power. You got to know what you’re doing to your body and you need to not just trust it, trust who it is. Ask questions. Get answers,” Brewer said.
Is your doctor certified: https://www.certificationmatters.org/is-your-doctor-board-certified/search-now.aspx
Georgia Composite medical board: http://medicalboard.georgia.gov/