The Blind Leading The Blind: How To Spot The “Fakes” Giving Plastic Surgery Advice, And Distinguish A Real Consultant From A Wannabemartineau.eric87
The Blind Leading The Blind: How To Spot The “Fakes” Giving Plastic Surgery Advice, And Distinguish A Real Consultant From A Wannabe
There has been a steady increase in plastic surgery procedures thanks to the presence of social media. Patients rely on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and RealSelf to help them make their decisions on surgeons, procedures, and acquire education regarding their procedures.
Unfortunately, social media has created a dangerous rift in the industry due to all the poor information being delivered to the masses. Patients are falling victims from taking advice from total strangers online; and going to doctors based on their popularity instead of their qualifications. Patients are also following surgery pages that are administered by other patients or people who have no medical education or background. Many of these pages either refer patients to surgeons or give pre and post-surgical advice.
I want to address the surgery (SX) pages that patients are following and taking advice from. I have a very large network of Board Certified Plastic Surgeons, and the industry is quite a small circle. I cannot tell you how many surgeons and providers like myself are concerned with these SX pages giving patients pseudo-expert advice and referring patients to random doctors; most often with no board certifications or worse, in third world countries where it is cheaper. We are seeing an increase in surgical complications and botched procedures because patients are being lead blindly to unqualified doctors. To add to the insult, these plastic SX pages make recommendations on supplements, pre and post op care instructions, and give surgical advice. Not to mention, many of them are referring you to well-known gravesites like DR (see my previous blog on that topic!) or the surgery mills in south Florida for instance.
These IG pages belong to women who love plastic surgery. They are patients like you. These people have zero medical degrees, zero medical/plastic surgery experience, and have created PS consulting businesses by referring patients to doctors that give them kickbacks. Most of these doctors are international doctors who are trying to gain the American clientele/dollar. These pages have strategically managed to create big pages using social media analytics, buying followers, using certain hashtags, all while preying on vulnerable patients who are seeking credible information.
So who and what is a legitimate Beauty Consultant? Meet Melinda Farina; a respected and well-known beauty broker who has been featured on multiple shows and TV appearances. Melinda has been in the business for 25 years and works with the best and most qualified surgeons in the nation. This is what she had to say about being a legitimate consultant.
“In order to be a consultant, you have to be an expert or an experienced professional in a specific field and have wide knowledge of the subject matter. My credentials for instance: I started working in the aesthetic dental industry when I was 14 years old and worked my way through various aesthetic practices, be it dermatology and plastic surgery as well as anti-aging medicine, over the past 25 years from front office, then obtaining an RDH license from NYU, to the back office (operatories and O.R.), radiography, learning all of the equipment and instruments, surgical set ups, sterilization, patient coordination and office management. I had to learn all of the medical guidelines, credentialing and compliances necessary to run a back office and a Certified OR. Ran through all of the tedious paperwork day after day, reviewing completion. I worked side-by-side daily with Board Certified Surgeons, Anesthesiologists and RNs. I went to night school at Columbia University to complete my masters in Organizational Psychology, have numerous certifications in practice management consulting. I flew around the world for 5 years on my weekends to serve as a business management consultant for international doctors. However, MOST importantly I have been working with patients throughout my entire career. So let’s break down what that term “consultant” actually is, shall we? The role of consultant can fall under one of two general categories
Internal consultant: someone who operates within an organization but is available to be consulted on areas of their specialization by other departments or individuals (acting as clients); or External consultant: someone who is employed externally to the client (either by a consulting firm or some other agency) whose expertise is provided on a temporary basis, usually for a fee. Consulting firms range in size from sole proprietorships consisting of a single consultant, small business consisting of a small number of consultants, to mid- to large consulting firms, which in some cases (like mine is turning into now) are multinational corporations. This type of consultant generally engages with multiple and changing individual clients, and often times typically companies, non-profit organizations, or governments.
By hiring a consultant, clients wish to have access to deeper levels of proven expertise. As well, clients can control their expenditures on consulting services by only purchasing as much services from the outside consultant as desired. Consultants help to “streamline” a specific process, make sense of important decisions using their extensive professional knowledge in one particular area.
Consultants provide their advice to their clients in a variety of forms.
As a professional Aesthetic Consultant, I have taken the past 25 years of industry knowledge to help patients figure out the right path and procedure that might work best for them, educate on fee structures, downtime, and align my clients with registered dietitians for pre and post op supplemental care. We serve as a concierge for education, patient safety, and excellent niche specialty options with proven consistencies and guide them throughout the entire experience. We coordinate strict private post op care options with our surgeons.
Often times a patient would like to see about 3 surgeons before making a surgical decision and we will then sit in a second consult and discuss the pros and cons, fees and different techniques and aesthetic styles of each surgeon. Choosing the right doctor for your surgery can be stressful and intimidating. I’d like to think that patients can rest easy knowing that they’re working with a well seasoned professional consultant like myself and that I truly have their best interests at heart at all times.”
Melinda Anna Farina, RDA, RDH, CBC
Integrated Aesthetics Consulting, Inc.
Beauty Brokers, Inc.
To better understand the legal implications of self-styled and poorly credentialed “consultants”, I spoke with Keith M. Hanenian, Esq, a medical malpractice attorney based in Florida and licensed in multiple states, who shared the following insight:
“This is such a gray area, “beauty brokers” are not a regulated entity. Any person can claim they are a beauty broker or a patient consultant and refer patients to a select group of surgeons. This much like what we see with pain referral networks. Sadly, physicians with minimal training can fly under the radar and perform procedures simply because they have credentials behind their name. There may be culpability for the beauty brokers if there is fraud involved in their process and they don’t disclose vested interests. But again, this would be challenging to uncover.
Because there are no regulatory agencies addressing these entities, they are able to “fly under the radar”. Now, if they are registered businesses and are misrepresenting what they offer, then of course people can file complaints with the local BBB. If the consultants aren’t misrepresenting or committing fraud and they send a patient to a surgeon that kills them or mangles them, all consultant has to say is “I was simply offering advice, I never presented myself as an expert.”
It’s definitely an area that needs legislative position but is not likely to be a priority. It is a disaster and more people will die as a result.
Keith M. Hanenian, Esq
Cristal Hanenian, Attorneys and Counselors at Law
4905 W. Laurel Street
Tampa, FL 33607
The purpose of this blog is not to throw shade at specific people. It is to educate you and give you the raw truth and the reality of these pages. Be careful whom you are seeking advice from and whom you are consulting when searching for a surgeon. Some of the most popular PS pages refer patients to known gravesites and call themselves PS Veterans. PS Veterans?! Is that a certification or a credential that allows patients to refer and give surgical advice after having a certain number of surgeries? Come on now. Plastic surgery enthusiasts are psedo-experts/consultants with ZERO credentials.
Take advice from a real consultant or businesses whom specializes in plastic surgery/cosmetic procedures. Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials and ask about their experience in the field. If they’ve had 10 surgeries themselves, that does not make them a consultant or an expert. That makes them a patient with multiple surgeries.