Survey shows the ugly face of cosmetic surgery

Need to check closely after unprofessional practices revealed.

CHOICE says people seeking cosmetic surgery should always check on the qualifications and experience of practitioners after an undercover survey of 30 clinics in Sydney and Brisbane revealed appalling examples of unprofessional conduct.

The consumer group says it is concerning that the three women in the survey, who requested consultations for breast augmentation, liposuction and Botox, were often not informed of all the risks of surgery.

Any medical doctor or specialist can perform cosmetic procedures but plastic surgeons have to undertake at least seven years of additional training. It’s estimated that in Australia there are 1000 cosmetic surgeons in regular practice.

Some of the women felt rushed through their consultations with the cosmetic practitioners, who then lost interest if the work seemed unlikely. In the breast augmentation case CHOICE’s mystery shopper was shown the breasts of a sales consultant as an example of the doctor’s handiwork; was told she “needed’ the work done and was even offered a discount if she consented for before and after photos to be published on the internet.

In another visit the woman was told she had a better chance of finding a partner if her breasts were enlarged and on three occasions, without asking, was given brochures offering loans to fund the procedures, which are not covered by Medicare or many private health insurers.

“Given the known risks and the apparent unwillingness of some cosmetic surgeons to discuss them there needs to be stronger regulation to protect consumers,” said CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn.

“Until then our best advice is to make sure of the qualifications and experience of any cosmetic surgeon you are considering and to educate yourself as to the risks of any procedures, so you can ask as many questions as you like.”

CHOICE says the non regulation of this competitive area is compounded by profuse advertising. In some states cosmetic practitioners have been stopped from promoting themselves as “surgeons” and banned from using before and after photographs.

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