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Asian cosmetic surgery disaster
AUSTRALIAN plastic surgeons are having to repair botched operations and shattered lives because of the boom in cut-price Asian cosmetic surgery.
Melbourne plastic surgeons this week told the Herald Sun of 57 bungled boob jobs, facelifts, liposuction and other overseas procedures they have fixed for unhappy medical tourists in the past three years.
But as the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons warns those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg, Australian medical travel companies fuelling the boom say their offshore treatments are safe and almost all patients are satisfied.
Medical tour operators estimate they are sending up to 20,000 Australians to surgery hotspots such as Thailand, Malaysia and India each year, where procedure packages up to $40,000 can be 60 per cent cheaper than in Melbourne.
More worrying are the many more who book their own surgery over the internet.
Twenty-two Melbourne plastic surgeons told the Herald Sun they treated patients for complications after returning from overseas surgery, underlining a ASPS survey that this year showed two-thirds of their members had repaired botched overseas operations.
Toorak plastic surgeon Dr Chris Moss has repaired nine people’s faces disfigured in overseas operations in the past three years, including a woman this week who had holes in her airways and a “blob” for a nose.
“The results can be horrible,” Dr Moss said. “These people have to go into hiding. They are doing this for their self-esteem and if it goes wrong it’s tragic for them.
“It shatters their life, it shatters their identity.
“It’s a particularly risky and sometimes dangerous practice and these patients are getting hoodwinked.”
“Dorothy” is one of those victims. Now in her 60s, Dorothy thought she’d found the fountain of youth in Singapore.
Having seen a magazine ad for a plastic surgeon charging $5000 for a facelift — which would have cost closer to $8000 in Australia — she hoped going overseas would also hide her operation from friends and family.
Instead, she returned with a damaged facial nerve that caused the right side of her face to collapse, while the left side became permanently swollen because of an untreated haematoma, scar tissue and hair left beneath the skin.
After months of hiding her face away, she had to spend almost twice the original cost just to have her face restored by a Melbourne plastic surgeon in January.
“I thought I was saving money and I could come back and nobody would know, they would just think I went for a holiday and came back looking lovely,” she said.
“But I couldn’t look at my face, it was so lumpy.
“I was so depressed. I just kept thinking you stupid, stupid vain woman, why did you do this?”
With savings of up to $30,000 offered, Hawthorn plastic surgeon Dr Hamish Farrow said the number of travellers suffering complications was rising.
“There is this expectation by patients that what they are buying is like a pair of pants, but it’s an operation,” he said.
“The post-operative care can be anything up to a couple of years, and people who look terrific at two weeks may not look terrific at six months, and having that avenue to go back to the person who provided it to you is fundamental.”
A Department of Health and Ageing spokeswoman said there were no restrictions on travelling for medical procedures, but warned disease control and quality of care after surgery were issues in some countries.
Melbourne-based Gorgeous Getaways sent about 500 Australians — including 150 Victorians — for surgery in Malaysia, Borneo, Thailand and Sri Lanka last year.
The same number used the firm in the previous three years combined and, while director Louise Cogan said she had no unhappy customers, she did worry about those booking their own treatments. “There are quite a few companies out there . . . hooked up with the best surgeons.
“To go outside the companies is asking for trouble because you just cannot pick a surgeon on the face of a website or marketing material and for an independent person to select a surgeon is extremely risky.”
source : http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun