American Society of Indian Plastic Surgeons

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Indian Plastic Surgery Charity Illustrates Basic Systemic Flaw


Plastic surgeons from India and the United States have organized The American Society of Indian Plastic Surgeons, a new association committed to addressing a shortage of plastic surgeons willing to address reconstructive problems.

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According the group's press release, the majority of the world's plastic surgeons now focus their practices on more profitable cosmetic surgery rather than reconstruction of functional disorders related to trauma, birth defects, disease, and aging.

The new association hopes to provide relief to the most needy of patients. Members are planning a week long trip to India in early April during which they will perform operations to correct conditions such as cleft palate, bad scarring from burns, and other serious deformities. The operations are offered free of charge.

Many of the doctors who participate in the American Society of Indian Plastic Surgeons were born in India but now practice in the United States.

APSG Comment: The problem here is one that is widespread not only throughout the field of plastic surgery but in every other medical specialty as well, both in Asia and the United States. Out of economic necessity, doctors are being forced away from the functional side of medicine and surgery and over to the elective side where care requires direct patient payment.

It used to be that only the most experienced plastic surgeons who had refined their skills to the highest level after decades of reconstructive surgery offered such elective care. Now, even inexperienced doctors a few years out of training are emphasizing cosmetic surgery. While the main reason for this shift is clearly financial, not all of these young surgeons are as greedy as it may appear.

Unless a doctor is employed by the government, there is no way to stay solvent performing long and complicated reconstructive operations with little or no chance of obtaining sufficient reimbursement. Turning a big profit is one thing, but so is simply breaking even.

While the charitable activity of this new Asian American group of plastic surgeons is to be commended, it is quite likely that once these volunteer surgeons return home to their own private practices in the United States and India, their emphasis over the remaining fifty-one weeks in the year will also return to the cash-up-front group of patients anxious to look more beautiful.

So it goes in all of medicine, and so it goes with plastic surgery.

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American Society of Indian Plastic Surgeons