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Patients Beware of Marketing Buzz Words

Submitted by Bernabe Vazquez on September 26, 2012

By: Dr. Bernabe Vazquez, MD, FACS

A recent commentary by a Miami Beach plastic surgeon discusses the abuse of certain medical practitioners with pseudoscience involving procedures like stem cell treatments.

In my practice, in Miami-Coconut Grove, I have spent decades warning patients on the allure of Buzz Words that attempt to separate them from their money. First we had “liposculpture”, a sexy term for liposuction, when in reality it is absolutely the same thing. Then came “the laser” as in laser-liposuction. If that wasn’t sexy enough, then they came up with “smart lipo”. Really, who wouldn’t want liposculpture over liposuction or smart lipo over dumb lipo?

Now we have stem cells. We are all excited that some day we will learn how to use stem cells in a variety of ways to improve the quality of our lives, but the reality is that, at least in plastic surgery, that day is not here yet. Same thing applies to PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma); which has to be the biggest rip off since snake oil!

Every single day I get asked by patients why I do not offer PRP treatments, and I tell them because I would rather provide them with a legitimate service; like Restylane, Botox, Dysport, Radiesse, and Sculptra. These are some of the products that we know work and can give a reliable result. Of course I have to buy the products and my profit is not as high as if I was to steal a little blood from the patient, spin it down in a centrifuge for a few minutes, and then re-inject it into them for $500-$1000!

The Miami Beach plastic surgeon was right; the ethical conduct of the para-medical community has gone to the dogs. They will try to sell you anything and everything with the promise of health and beauty.

Stem cells, PRP, liposculpture, smart lipo, lunch-time peels, etc… are all terms meant to attract and confuse. I have a sexy term to use as well, “Caveat Emptor”, Latin for “Let the buyer beware”.