chapter  7
16 Pages

Vilification Stories: Plastic Surgery and Profit

We've [plastic surgeons] been the dog in the media for 10 years. They've done nothing but talk about us. But, you know, you can't make a pet out of a rattlesnake. (Tampa Bay Plastic Surgeon)

As we undertook the various studies reported in this book, it seemed that everywhere we looked we found plastic surgeons described as responsible for patients' distress. Yet, we had begun our work because several plastic surgeons had been determined to follow the highest ethical standards. We enjoyed the support of our faculty colleagues in plastic surgery and we had found them deeply concerned about patient well-being and the appropriate professional response to patient concerns. They were actively conducting research that might find a connection between silicone gel and illness if such a connection did indeed exist. Through their help, we were able to talk with numbers of plastic surgeons in community practice. Although all were troubled by the controversy and felt misunderstood, none seemed to wear horns and a tail. They talked about patients as we would want doctors to, with genuine concern and caring. They were troubled that patients who might benefit from gel implants could be denied the opportunity to choose them because of the political fallout from the controversy.