Dr. Jaime Garza discusses a particularly harmful complication from this procedure and the mounting costs of being uninsured in the ER.
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Dr. Jaime Garza: There's the global risks that we talk about for any surgical procedure and in plastic surgery. It's the immediate bleeding episode. The patient begins to bleed after surgery at the surgical site. A hematoma, which is essentially bleeding that stays contained underneath the skin and forms this big ball that's essentially a blood clot that needs to be removed. More importantly, immediately, besides the bleeding, the infection, the hypotension, hypertension that we discuss, and cardiac problems of course, I think of special concern to all plastic surgeons is the formation of a blood clot in the calf, and that's called a DVT or deep vein thrombosis. That, more than anything, is what we really strive to prevent. There's a lot of maneuvers that we do before surgery and during surgery to try to prevent that complication. That complication, although rare, is a deadly complication, a deep vein thrombosis turns into what we call a PE, or pulmonary embolism, and that is something we want to avoid at all costs. These complications often times require a trip to the hospital, or a return trip to the operating room, which can be a very costly venture for the patient and the physician as well. If the patient is already at home or in a recovery setting, such as an out-patient surgical facility, overnight stay, there's usually an ambulance fee, there's either a trip to the emergency room, a fee for the emergency department, a fee for the emergency physician, a trip to the operating room, which includes opening the facility, so you have a facility fee. You have a charge for all the stay that have to staff that operating room. Most of the time a surgeon does not charge for the care of an emergency problem after surgery. But all the peripheral charges, the anesthesiologist, these can run up to thousands and thousands of dollars.