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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Not to be glib, but...

The website of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons provides information about various procedures and purports to offer "Top 10 Questions To Ask Your Surgeon Before Going Under The Knife":

1. What are your credentials and training experience?
2. How many procedures of this type have you performed?
3. Are there alternatives to surgery?
4. What do I need to do to prepare for surgery?
5. What are the risks?
6. How can I better manage post-surgical side effects and complications such as nausea, vomiting, pain, infection or bleeding?
7. How will side effects or complications be handled?
8. How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
9. Will my recovery keep me from my usual, daily activities such as work?
10. Where and how will you perform my procedure?

It seems these questions avoid one of the major problems with cosmetic surgery: the considerable principal-agent problem. It is entirely possible that the surgery does not generate the desired result. Unlike the case of a bad hair-cut, a bad plastic surgery might require a closer look at this moral hazard problem. To this end, I might add a few more:
  • How many times have you been sued for malpractice?
  • How current is your malpractice insurance?
  • How much and how often do you drink alcohol?
  • If your closest loved-one were to have this procedure, who would you recommend?

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