Australian activists are urging greater regulation of cosmetic surgery.
An undercover investigation by consumer group Choice has exposed the highly unprofessional and dangerous practises of some clinics
In order to find out how some cosmetic surgery clinics operate, Choice recruited three women as shadow shoppers. The women visited 30 cosmetic surgery clinics in Sydney and Brisbane, requesting consultations for breast augmentation, liposuction and Botox, and reported back on their experiences. Choice then formally invited members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) to give expert opinions on how these consultations were conducted.
Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn says one of the most appalling examples of unprofessional conduct involved a woman seeking breast implants.
"This was where the woman in one case was shown the breasts of one of the sales consultants as an example of the doctors' handiwork, was told she actually needed to have the surgery done, was offered a discount if she agreed to before and after photographs of her breasts being published on the internet, and was even told that if she had the breast enlargement it would increase her chances of finding a boyfriend," Mr Zinn said.
Liposuction is a most dangerous procedure. It usually involves pumping the "problem" area with liquid before sucking fat out of the body. It can be painful and requires a high level of post-operative care.
The shadow shopper used for this case was rated by ASPS experts as a poor candidate for liposuction - they suggested she would need to lose weight first and that an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) would probably be more suitable.
While the general advice about liposuction was sound, not all the doctors stated how many surgeries they had performed - and even when they did, they remained ambiguous. Very few doctors mentioned their actual qualifications and accreditations, hence placing the onus on the patient to do all the asking.
Plastic surgery complications can vary from scarring to fatalities and the effects of surgery can sometimes be traumatizing to patients both physically and psychologically.
The risks of plastic surgery will diverge depending on the individual and the procedure you opt for. Scarring is one of the most frequent risks that people considering plastic surgery should be alert of. Most surgeons will try to hide incision lines in places where they aren't noticeable but most surgeries will still result in permanent scarring.
Bleeding and infections are probable after surgery, but if these complications are caught early on they can usually be treated.
Nerve damage is a serious difficulty that people considering plastic surgery must be aware of. Some people who undergo plastic surgery will lose feeling in the area that was operated on while others may experience problems moving muscles in the area where the surgery was performed.
Other dangers include: sensory damage around the operation site, discoloration of the skin, tissue necrosis, asymmetry, abnormal looking features, premature aging and allergic reactions to sedation.
The Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery agrees there needs to be further regulation and more transparency for consumers.
Its president, Doctor Daniel Fleming, says the College is still working on a code of conduct despite the first draft being knocked back by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
"It's quite normal for a draft decision for the ACCC to say 'we want you to make some changes before we approve it'," Dr Fleming told ABC Online.
"We're quite happy with the changes they've asked for, we're resubmitting the code within three weeks and we're absolutely confident the code will be approved by the ACCC and it will be the first and only code that will give consumers transparency in cosmetic surgery in this country."