At Cosmetic Surgery Affiliates, we believe that all people should be treated with respect and equally. My heart was saddened recently when a patient shared his story with me. A trans-male patient presented to me for wanting liposuction of his abdomen. He had been fully transitioned for many years and passed quite well. He told me that his journey was very difficult, and although he had a successful transition the process was painful. Both he and his friends were often asked to use the back door at surgical offices, not to be seen by other patients, and told not to come back for any follow up appointments. The staff were degrading and disrespectful. I was surprised to learn from him that as he was researching cosmetic surgeons at this time now, these practices of insensitive and substandard care still existed. He told me that he passed so was personally treated much better, but knew of current friends who were still being treated in the same manner. So although he could have had his procedure anywhere, he decided to travel 2 hours to Cosmetic Surgery Affiliates to support a practice that would show love and respect to all and care for all patients equally.
Equality in healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. However, according the to the Cleveland Clinic, national research has shown that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients are at increased risk for substandard, insensitive, or even abusive care due to stigmatization. Inequalities in the delivery and quality of healthcare to members of this group include the following:
- Patients are more likely to delay needed regular medical care.
- LGBT individuals are more likely to be dependent on alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
- Gay men and transgender patients are at higher risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
- Lesbian women are more likely to be overweight and are less likely to have regular cancer screenings.
- Youth are more likely to experience significant mental health problems, have a higher risk of suicide, engage in risky behaviors, and become the victims of violence.
- Elderly LGBT patients are at risk for poor social support due to stigmatization.
With the current pandemic surrounding Co-Vid 19, I have had the opportunity to reflect upon this inequality. It is statistically unlikely that we will have a need to determine what is “essential surgery” versus “non-essential” again in our lifetimes. However, if a patient with gender dysphoria is in distress, research and publications have revealed a statistically higher level of depression and suicide rate. When does management of these patients become life-saving and “essential”? Does a patient who is in psychological distress warrant elective surgery to minimize or prevent the risk of suicidal behavior? Is this situation more or less essential than a patient with a breast implant infection or a pain after surgery that does not resolve on it’s own? This international health concern has engaged more people than ever in the discussion surrounding the concerns and issues affecting these marginalized communities. Since Oklahoma was fortunately one of the first states to return to elective surgery, we have not had the struggle that many of our colleagues in other states continue to have. However, continued societal questions of need for transitioning patients have come to the forefront of discussion.
At Cosmetic Surgery Affiliates, we strive to be a leader in making positive changes. Our mission is to transform lives, one body at a time, and has no restrictions on whom we serve. We make it a priority to graciously serve others, and respect all people at all times.