Ethics are crucial in the medical field because they help protect patients and medical practices. Performing procedures for the right reasons and prioritizing each patient’s best interest are essential for providing the safest aesthetic care possible. Practicing cosmetic surgery ethics can help you provide quality care and expand your business while doing what’s best for your patients.
What Are Ethics in Plastic Surgery?
Surgery ethics are moral principles that govern procedures and surgical care. Ethical doctors prioritize their patients’ best interests to maintain health and safety. Compared to traditional medical practices, aesthetic medicine presents unique ethical challenges.
As a practitioner, you face ethical considerations surrounding which patients to treat and explaining each procedure’s associated risks. Practicing ethics in the medical field relies on considering if each decision and procedure is in the patient’s best interest. The best interest is not always clear in aesthetic medicine and requires unique considerations for practitioners.
Why Are Ethical Considerations Important?
Ethical considerations are important for the following reasons:
Patient Health and Safety
Practicing aesthetic ethics helps increase patient health and safety. Doctors who practice ethics carefully consider procedures and determine the safest options for each patient. They prioritize safety over monetary gain, helping provide the best care possible.
Protection for Your Practice
Ethics also help doctors protect their practices. You can prevent legal consequences by avoiding unethical treatments and procedures. Performing a procedure that could knowingly harm a patient can potentially lead to legal and financial ramifications, and avoiding jeopardizing your practice is crucial. Practicing ethics helps protect your practice so you can continue providing excellent care.
Doing the Right Thing
Making ethical decisions also provides peace of mind that you are doing the right thing. It’s your responsibility as a medical provider to honor the Hippocratic oath and avoid any actions that could harm your patients. Practicing ethics in your medical work helps you do what’s best for each individual.
6 Ethical Factors to Consider
Consider the following ethical factors when meeting patients, making medical decisions and planning procedures:
1. Patient Autonomy in Elective Surgeries
Medical technology has revolutionized the aesthetic medical industry. Procedures are safer, more effective and have better results than decades ago. Combined with cultural concern for image and appearance, these advancements have increased the desire for aesthetic surgery.
Unlike traditional clinical medicine, where practitioners treat illnesses and injuries, aesthetic medicine is considered elective. All patients have the right to decide whether to undergo a procedure. Patient autonomy is even more important in aesthetic medicine, where patients elect surgical intervention to enhance or correct.
You can support patient autonomy by helping each individual make informed decisions. You should explain each procedure’s risks in detail and inform each patient about the modern technology you use and its benefits. Each decision should be a partnership between you and your patient, and you should always provide all of the necessary information without pressuring your patient into a procedure.
2. Patient Expectations
Expectation management is key when consulting patients about cosmetic procedures. Patients expect some skin imperfections or suboptimal results in most medically necessary procedures. However, patients expect their idea of an improved appearance after cosmetic procedures, and anything less can lead to disappointment.
Setting realistic expectations is essential when discussing procedures and possible results with patients. Explain to each patient that results can vary.
3. Best Interest of Patients
Ethical integrity and a patient’s best interest are vital in the practice of medicine. You want to help your patients achieve their desired outcomes, and aesthetic medicine can help give patients meaningful life improvements. However, some patients are not ideal candidates for cosmetic procedures.
One example is those with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). BDD is a psychiatric syndrome characterized by a preoccupation with a non-existent cosmetic defect that may include repeated attempts to correct it surgically. Performing procedures on patients with BDD or other psychiatric disorders that dwell on imperfections ultimately leads to dissatisfied patients.
You should also avoid performing unnecessary procedures on patients with comorbidities, individuals with unrealistic expectations and those going through life crises. As an aesthetic medical provider, it’s important to consider these potential obstacles when consulting with a patient about undergoing a cosmetic procedure.
Your patients’ best interests should always preempt all other considerations, including financial and emotional factors. If a patient wants and can afford a procedure but has a condition making it unsafe, their health and safety are the priority. Considering a patient’s motivation for wanting a procedure is also essential.
You should avoid doing a procedure if a patient’s goal is to meet someone else’s expectations or keep up with trends. If you do procedures for the right reasons, you can help patients meet healthy, realistic goals.
4. Financial Interest
Another unique aspect of aesthetic medicine is its position in the larger field of financial interest. An increase of untrained practitioners are offering non-physician-based cosmetic devices and services. While lower cosmetic service prices may attract more customers, professional physician-based procedures are safer. It’s important individuals understand the risks of non-physician-based procedures and the benefits of safe, expert procedures.
Aesthetic medicine practitioners should position themselves as experts in these procedures with the highest likelihood of optimal patient results. Certifications such as the American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery’s (AAAMS’s) CE Approved Aesthetics 101 Training position you as a certified expert in the cosmetic medicine field.
Receiving the proper aesthetic procedure training benefits your patients because it equips you to provide safer results and help your practice rise above the untrained competition.
5. Choosing and Rejecting Patients
The Hippocratic oath calls for physicians to cause no harm, and it’s crucial for aesthetic medicine providers to follow this oath. You may decline to operate on a patient for whom the risks of surgery outweigh the potential benefits to the patient. Determine whether to perform or decline procedures on a case-by-case basis. You should only proceed with operations based on a patient’s best interest and never on personal or financial gain.
6. Training and Experience
Continuous training helps practitioners improve their skills so they can avoid complications and suboptimal results. Clinicians performing procedures should continuously learn new techniques to benefit patients. Enrolling in the AAAMS Hybrid Aesthetics 101 course is an excellent way to expand your aesthetic medicine training. AAAMS’s hybrid course provides a blend of traditional and virtual learning.
Join the AAAMS to Start Your Journey in Aesthetic Medicine
The cosmetic industry’s growth requires all aesthetic medical providers to reflect on their ethical codes and practices and ensure they align with each patient’s best interest. Patients need to know they are in the best hands with aesthetic medical providers, and AAAMS courses offer that credibility.
Administered by trained physicians, our courses offer cutting-edge training for medical professionals looking to switch specialties or add new specialties to their practices. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you improve your skills and provide the best care possible.