Thursday, September 05, 2013

Cosmetic surgeries gone wrong

Free Malaysia Today

GEORGE TOWN: Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) wants the federal government to legislate tough laws to allow criminal charges with severe punishments, including jail sentences, on unqualified cosmetic surgeons; especially those who caused death or disfigurement on clients.
CAP president SM Mohamed Idris calls on the Health Ministry to legislate the law to prevent these bogus surgeons from conducting cosmetic surgeries, which had often caused tragic sufferings and deaths of clients due to a botched job.
He wants the legislation to be enacted as soon as possible to govern the fast growing industry. Lack of such laws has encouraged the mushrooming of illegal surgeons and beauty salons.
In view of an increase in botched surgeries, he called upon the ministry to take stern action against doctors who performed such procedures despite not being qualified.
He wants the ministry to upgrade the current guidelines on aesthetic medicine into law so that it can be legally enforced and regulated.
Presently the Health Ministry applies the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (PHFSA) 1998 and the Medical Act 1971 if untrained and unqualified doctors conduct cosmetic surgeries.
But this is insufficient and Idris said currently most cases ended up in the Consumers’ Tribunal where victims, who suffered permanent damages, would only be compensated monetarily.
To complicate matters further, many victims are shy to come forward to lodge police reports on botched surgeries.
Since the eighties CAP has been receiving complaints in regards to botched cosmetic surgeries; but Idris lamented that not much has changed to-date since there is a lack of proper legislation.
“Current antiquated laws are insufficient to protect consumers from being duped by these unqualified cosmetic surgeons.
“The Ministry should strictly regulate cosmetic surgery with direct laws.
“The culprits must face criminal charges and jailed if found guilty,” Idris told a press conference in his office today. Also present was CAP officer Hatijah Hashim.
Mounting cases of botched surgeries
He pointed out that media had recently reported several botched cosmetic surgeries, including on a woman who died from complications after a breast enlargement procedure at a beauty centre.
Other reports were on death after undergoing liposuction and allergic reactions.
Idris said nerve damage and disfigurement caused by injected substances during cosmetic procedures were other instances
Unlike a responsible doctor who would conduct a thorough examination on the patient before deciding on the best treatment option, he said beauty centres often bent backwards to follow the customers’ wishes, regardless of the medical risks.
“Media reports shared common features of disfigurement, deformity and death as results of procedures directed at altering external appearances,” he said further.
Following are press reports on some cosmetic surgeries that went wrong:
• Nov 2009 – A 34 year-old woman suffered a swollen nose after injections were made to enlarge it.
• Jan 2010 – 44 year-old wife of a politician died after being in a 10 month coma following complications that resulted from an eight hour surgery for eye-bag reduction, tummy tuck and liposuction.
• Feb 2010 – A 28 year-old salesgirl ended up with a disfigured face after a collagen injection to look younger.
• May 2010 – A 37 year-old woman who went for a breast reduction surgery suffered nerve damage and had to have her nipples removed.
• June 2010 – After liposuction at a beauty salon, a woman died when she went back for a follow-up procedure. She is believed to have had an allergic reaction to the anesthetic.
• May 2011 – A 35 year-old woman from Petaling Jaya paid RM8, 180 for four injections to her buttocks with what the beauty centre claimed to be sheep placenta. When the injected areas started swelling she went to a specialist hospital and found that the centre had actually used silicone.
• June 2011 – A 30 year-old clerk got an infection from a procedure in which fat from her abdominal was used to pad her breast.
• June 2011 – An 18 year-old trainee beautician was left with part of her earlobe missing after a surgery to remove a scar on the ear lobe.
• June 2013 -A 46 year-old woman was pronounced dead after undergoing a breast enlargement procedure at a beauty centre in Petaling Jaya.
Greed for money
The beauty and wellness industry is a rapidly growing lucrative business in Malaysia.
According to the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), the billion-dollar industry is growing by 15% annually.
Idris said the potential for huge profits had spurred growth of backstreet practitioners with little experience or expertise in handling the surgeon’s scalpel or even other non-surgical cosmetic equipments.
“This has lured not only quack doctors but also general practitioners who are untrained in the field wanting to make a quick buck,” he said.
According to Malaysian Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons (Mapacs), if a survey was conducted among plastic surgeons in the country on the number of botched cases, it would be only one or two per month.
But Idris argued such study had failed to include surgeries done by illegal and backyard operators.
He noted that many unsanctioned cosmetic surgery centres had mushroomed in Penang. They promote and market their services and goods as tourism products to foreigners.
As the society is obsessed to look beautiful, he said many consumers did not think twice to spend thousands of ringgits to go under the knife for enhancements.
He said many, especially young women, were falling prey to unscrupulous beauty centres, which feed on their insecurities and desires.
He said the need for cosmetic procedures had almost become a necessity for many modern women as they are driven by relentless adverts in the media.
Though patients are far better informed today on cosmetic surgery, “we still hear of human tragedies,” he said.
“The amount of money spent on such operations all over the world may well exceed the budgets of some developing countries, in which people die of hunger and are unable to sustain life.
“Many people are suffering from botched surgeries after spending so much to look beautiful. Some have caused deaths.
“It’s a waste of money, tragic, sad and bad,” stressed Idris.

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