Dr. Patti Flint

Plastic Surgery & ASC’s

In my role as a plastic surgeon, I get to debunk a lot of myths. You’ve probably heard a few of them.

There is such a thing as a healthy tan. (Actually, no, there isn’t)

Bigger is better. (When it comes to plastic surgery, again, no)

“Non-invasive” always means safe. (Yet again, no. Read my blog post on this)

The best place to have plastic surgery is a hospital. (You guessed it, a resounding…no.)

Recently both myself and my ASC (Ambulatory Surgery Center) McCormick Ranch Surgicenter, were featured in a well researched, well-written article in Phoenix Magazine’s 2018 “TOP DOC” issue.


Often, when people think of having plastic surgery, they assume that they must have their procedure performed in a hospital, preferably a big one. They may not even consider the possibility of having their surgery at a “specialty” ambulatory surgical center, (ASC), one that is focused on plastic surgery. In some instances, if they have heard of ASC’s, they might think that it is not as safe a choice as a hospital.  When it comes to plastic surgery procedures such as breast augmentation, facelifts, tummy tucks, etc., this couldn’t be further from the truth.

People likely feel this way because the concept of ASC’s is relatively new. The very first ASC that was ever opened was right here in Arizona in 1970. Two pioneering physicians, Wallace Reed, MD, and John Ford, MD developed the concept of an ASC because they wanted to provide comfortable, personalized, cost-effective surgical services to patients in their community in a timely manner. Almost 50 years later, there are more than 5,300 ASC’s in the U.S. performing over 20 million surgeries per year. And yet, many people are under the impression that a hospital is still the best place to have a plastic surgery procedure.

As a physician and a board certified plastic surgeon, I can tell you that there are a number of reasons why it is preferable to have plastic surgery procedures performed at an ASC. And most of the reasons that make ASC’s preferable for doctors are the same reasons that make them preferable for patients. Let’s discuss a few:

1)    High standards. Often a patient’s biggest worry about having their surgery at an ASC is whether or not it’s safe. The truth is that ASCs are required to have many of the same safety standards as hospitals. ASCs are highly regulated by federal and state entities, and any ASC providing services to Medicare beneficiaries must receive Medicare certification. Many ASCs go a step further and become accredited by a third party organization. For example, my ASC, the Scottsdale McCormick Ranch Surgicenter is fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Ambulatory Health Care Organizations (JCAHO), which is the most stringent of all the accrediting bodies. All anesthesia is provided by a board-certified anesthesiologists, and our operating rooms are fully equipped to handle medical emergencies.

2)    Lower risk of infection. Hospitals are full of sick people, nasty viruses, and deadly bacteria (including very dangerous resistant strains of bacteria like MRSA). At an ASC, the patients aren’t typically sick with viral or bacterial infections (plus there are fewer patients overall). This contributes to an extremely low risk of infection– about 0.1% overall, and 0% at my facility.

3)    Cost-effective. As health care costs continue to rise, ASC’s have been able to bring surgical costs down.

4)    The perfect work environment for your doctor. Imagine that every time you went to work, you had to rearrange your work area the way you liked it because the person using the space before you set it up differently. Also, imagine that you were assigned different co-workers each shift. On top of that, you were held responsible for the outcome of the work, yet you didn’t have any say in who your co-workers were their skill level, or the quality of any of the equipment available for your use. That’s kind of like performing surgery in a hospital. Contrast that with the Scottsdale McCormick Ranch Surgicenter where the procedure rooms are set up exactly the way I need them to be for the techniques I use, where the equipment and products are up to my standards, and where I know the people I am working with are knowledgeable, experienced, dedicated and compassionate. In short, in my operating rooms, everything is under my control to ensure that you the patient receive the very best quality of care I can offer.

5)    Less wait. It stands to reason that a hospital only has so many operating rooms. It also stands to reason that emergency surgical procedures must take precedence over elective or less urgent procedures (such as breast augmentation, rhinoplasty or mommy makeovers). Because ASC’s don’t handle emergencies, (unless you are my patient at my ASC) your surgery isn’t going to be delayed or “bumped”.  I know that my time is valuable, and I bet yours is, too. Having to rework your work/childcare/life schedule because of a shifting surgery date isn’t fun. If your surgery is scheduled at an ASC, unless your surgeon has a personal emergency, you likely won’t have to.

One last thing about ASC’s: Many doctors, including myself, prefer to work in them for the reasons outlined above, but also because they allow us to give our patients the most individualized, comfortable, and pleasant experience possible. ASCs allow for a more personal touch, and patients (especially anxious ones) prefer the calming, not cold environment.

You can learn more about my plastic surgery practice and state-of-the-art facility, the Scottsdale McCormick Ranch Surgicenter by contacting our office.

To learn more about ASCs in general, see this article on the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association’s website.

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