Season 1 Episode 8

Published on July 22, 2013 by

Cara Fitzgerald

Nip/Tuck Season One, Cara Fitzgerald

Finally, a nip/tuck episode that addresses a plastic surgeon’s code of ethics! Can’t wait. So, let’s do this. I’m going to call this episode…


Like all medical doctors, plastic surgeons adhere to a strict code of ethics. As I was casually reviewing the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ Code of Ethics again yesterday evening (it was a slow night… nip/tuck didn’t help), I noticed that it states, among other things, that a plastic surgeon shall, “render services to humanity with full respect for human dignity” and that the industry should, “… safeguard the public and itself against physicians deficient in moral character or professional competence.” Uh-oh. I wonder if the Writers Guild has a strict code of ethics? Hmmm.

Anyway… just a hypothetical here, but let’s say a man comes in looking to have a lesion or birthmark removed, as Michael Shannon happened to do in this episode. And, let’s say that the spot he wants removed is located on a certain, well, delicate spot of the male anatomy. Not a problem. In fact, laser spot removal is so common and so successful at removing lesions including port wine stains that Dr. Troy, as usual, guarantees satisfaction, saying the spot will be gone before Mr. Shannon’s honeymoon. By the way, the code of ethics can take disciplinary action against any plastic surgeon who, “… guarantees satisfaction.” Oh, yeah, I almost forgot; this man – Michael Shannon – is actually Father Michael Shannon, a priest who’s looking to have the “identifying mark” removed because he’s being investigated for sexually abusing children of his parish. Hey, happens everyday! The removal of a birthmark, jeez.

To Dr. Troy’s credit, he didn’t know the priest was a sexual predator when he performed the laser spot removal. And, further to his credit, once he discovered the truth, he wanted to go straight to the police with the evidence (the before-and-after photos). And, no, he doesn’t carry them around in his wallet. The big surprise here is that Dr. McNamara – aka Mr. Clean – didn’t want to go to the police for fear that the practice’s reputation might be tarnished. Nobody likes a snitch. Besides, Dr. McNamara had the law on his side, citing doctor/patient confidentiality. Anyway, got me to thinking, what does the code of ethics have to say about something like this?

Again, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) states, “A physician may not reveal a patient’s confidence, any observed characteristics of the patient, or any information obtained from the patient in a professional capacity…” Well, there you go. Oh, wait, there’s more: “… unless required to do so by law or unless it becomes necessary in order to protect the welfare of the individual or of the community.” Sounds like Dr. Troy was right – a first! Of course he was right, and for once, I agree with him (I feel so dirty). Now, I don’t know a lot about the law, so let’s move on to something I do know a lot about – lasers.

Around the world, millions of patients of every age have had “spots” or lesions removed with either lasers or some other advanced light system. And whereas in the past, removal of a lesion required surgery, radiation or even tattooing, today, lasers can remove it in a bloodless, virtually pain free procedure in just a few minutes and in as little as one to two treatments, depending upon the size and location of the lesion. These laser treatment videos can show you how medical spa treatments such as Fraxel® can treat spots without anesthesia or surgery

Well, that’s it… I hate goodbyes. So, I’ll leave you with this: if you’re interested in reading the ASPS’ code of ethics (and who isn’t?), you can download the 3,000 plus word doc at (search “code of ethics”). Of course, you can also see it here in action, without all of the lights and cameras.

See you next time.

Charlie Sheridan

Medical Editor and Consultant


Under the Knife
  Marina Plastic Surgery

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