“This is the first time a state has had a comprehensive guide to breast implants available in a public document that clearly outlines what we expect of doctors and how we expect doctors to behave,” said Professor Ashton, co-author of the NSW guidelines. “It helps patients understand what they should ask for when they come in for that first consultation.”
It is extremely important for patients to be aware of the risks of implants, he said, with the guide calling for a minimum of two in-person consultations with patients, pre- and post-operative ultrasounds and mammograms, periods of reflection, reports on implants. and adverse events in the Australian Breast Device Registry and Ongoing Monitoring of Breast Implants Post Surgery.
The guidelines were developed following the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s ban on the use of three breast implants due to links to a rare cancer at the end of 2020.
Professor Ashton said one of the biggest problems in the cosmetic surgery industry is the lack of transparency about individual doctors and their qualifications: anyone with a medical degree or general practitioner or of a dermatologist can be called a cosmetic surgeon.
“There is no transparency that some doctors are simply not qualified in certain types of operations. We hope guidelines like these will be implemented across Australia,” Prof Ashton said, noting that similar guidelines are being developed for liposuction procedures in Victoria.
“The guidelines are useful, but they are not legally enforceable. We need AHPRA to have real teeth to punish aberrant people in cosmetic care who perform surgery outside the guidelines of accepted medical care,” he said.
Around 25% of all women implanted in Australia have undergone surgery following a diagnosis of breast cancer, Dr Deva said.
Robyn Smith, 42, underwent mastectomy and breast implant surgery three years ago after finding out she had the cancer-causing BRCA 2 gene mutation.
“I knew I was at a very high risk of developing breast cancer, so I decided to have the surgery. I was told that women who had breast reconstruction had better mental health outcomes. , so I opted for the implant option.
But after the procedure, Ms Smith said she ‘had a bunch of symptoms and signs of breast implant disease. I never recovered from the fatigue of the operation”.
Ms Smith, who had her implants removed a year later, believes the “risks have been a bit blown away” when discussing the surgery with doctors and “information about ruptures and adverse events like capsular contracture have simply not been discussed in detail”.
“I would like to see surgeons educating and informing patients about all of their reconstructive options, not just implants,” she said. “Doctors really need to make sure patients really understand the risks so they can give appropriate informed consent and then take the time to make the best decision for them.”
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