ORAL SURGEONS: Many Perform ‘Illegal’ Cosmetic Surgeries
Trying to break into the world of cosmetic surgery, some California oral surgeons are "illegally doing facial makeovers, including eyelid surgeries, face lifts and neck liposuctions," according to the Attorney General's Office, the Legislative Counsel of California and the Department of Consumer Affairs. While clearly labeling the activity criminal, the three state agencies say many providers are advertising such procedures on the Internet, in newspapers and in the phone book. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that nearly 70% of the state's 400 oral surgeons are performing unlicensed cosmetic surgeries. Most oral surgeons hold dental, not medical licenses and are only allowed to perform surgeries in the mouth and jaw area. Only those who hold both medical and dental licenses, in addition to a valid California medical license, can perform any facial cosmetic surgery. Alan Mangels, a deputy attorney general who serves a legal adviser to the state's Board of Dental Examiners, said, "I don't think there's any confusion here, they are not licensed to do these things." But, oral surgeons argue that they are properly trained and have stated a movement to amend the laws prohibiting them from expanding their cosmetic surgery work. Dr. Craig Thiede, a Tustin-based oral surgeon who advertises laser surgery to reduce wrinkles and has performed nose jobs, said, "We have this stigma that we are just dentists, but we train alongside medical doctors, and nearly everything we do has cosmetic implications. Our training is extensive." Dr. Mark Gorney, former president of the American Society of Plastic Reconstructive Surgeons, said, "[Oral surgeons] are very limited and very specialized. They do not have the core medical knowledge they should have to do this work." Trying to punish surgeons who break the rules has proved difficult as the dental board can only punish members who do bad dentistry, and the medical board lacks the authority to restrict dental licenses. A dental board committee is scheduled to meet today to discuss procedures it believes oral surgeons should be allowed to perform. Next week, the California Dental Association will do the same (Kindy, Orange County Register, 11/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.