Sunday, June 26, 2016
Australia - Cosmetic surgery crackdown: Urgent action needed by states to protect patients, surgeons say
Leading surgeons say state and territory health authorities urgently need to tighten regulations governing where anaesthetics can be used, to protect cosmetic surgery patients.
It comes in the wake of a major crackdown by the Medical Board into doctors performing cosmetic surgery.
The changes include a seven-day cooling off period for patients considering procedures, more safeguards for people under 18 seeking surgeries and more onus on doctors to provide post-operative care.
But the Medical Board has no authority over where and when anaesthetic drugs can be used.
Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons spokesman Professor Mark Ashton said patient safety had been put at risk because some doctors were using strong anaesthetics at inappropriate clinic facilities.
"We would like to see the Medical Board partner with state health departments to clamp down on day surgery facilities where many of these operators perform their surgeries," he said.
Last month, the ABC revealed details of an explosive leaked report which found patients at one of Australia's most popular cosmetic surgery clinics were being knocked out without their consent.
Professor Ashton said the new Medical Board guidelines were a good first step but needed to go further.
"Some of the day clinics are doing surgical procedures far beyond anything that anyone had intended," he said.
The New South Wales Government is looking at tightening licensing regulations to stop cosmetic surgeons carrying out procedures in non-hospital settings.
16,000 Australians getting breast implants every year
Cosmetic surgery is growing in popularity — according to the latest figures, Australians spend more on cosmetic procedures per capita than Americans.
Each year, 16,000 Australians get breast implants and another 15,000 undergo liposuction, with up to $300 million spent annually on anti-wrinkle injections.
Medical Board chair Dr Joanna Flynn said new safeguards were needed, particularly for people under the age of 18 seeking cosmetic surgery.
"We know that younger people are often a bit impetuous and often are vulnerable in ways that more mature people aren't, in relation to self-esteem, and concerns about appearance," she said.
In the last decade, two young Australian women have died and several other have been rushed to hospital with serious complications after undergoing cosmetic procedures.