Boom in cosmetic surgery requires tighter controls

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It’s a sign of our image-conscious age that the cosmetic surgery market is growing rapidly and is now worth $ 1 billion a year in Australia.

Demand is fueled by new techniques that are heavily promoted on social media with glamorous videos that promise fast and guaranteed results. Many cosmetic surgeons operate as for-profit franchises that compete with each other by offering cheaper prices.

Too many people who go under the knife, however, are unaware of the risks and suffer when they go to shonks. It can take months to recover from procedures such as liposuction and breast augmentation. Patients may experience extreme pain, permanent disfigurement, or worse.

A joint investigation by the Herald, Age and the ABC Four corners program in the sector over the past two months, however, could be on the verge of making changes.

Cosmetic surgeon and social media celebrity Daniel Lanzer’s clinic investigation revealed practices such as dangerous neglect of liposuction; the use of staples in front of the ear in a facelift procedure, which has been described by three specialist plastic surgeons as unusual and healing; removing 10 liters of fat and fluids in liposuction patients in one procedure, which is considered dangerous and twice the amount considered safe.

We spoke to a woman who spent thousands of dollars treating nerve damage after surgery at one of the clinics, not Dr Lanzer.

Following the revelations, the Australian Healthcare Practitioner Regulatory Agency intervened last month and Dr Lanzer, who operates clinics in Melbourne and Sydney, has pledged not to practice medicine.

Last week, one of Dr Lanzer’s associates, Daniel Aronov, a cosmetic surgeon who has a phenomenal 13 million subscribers on social media site TikTok, agreed to stop performing cosmetic surgery. The AHPRA on Tuesday announced a broader investigation into patient safety issues in the sector.

The Herald welcomes the intervention of the regulator but this investigation must lead to a real change, unlike several previous repressions which have made little difference.

For example, after a series of scandals including one in 2017 where a woman died during a breast implant in Chippendale in Sydney, the Council of Australian Governments set up a task force to look into the sector.

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