Fly-in fatal attraction
FOREIGNERS are flying into WA to perform cheap and dangerous cosmetic procedures, feeding a black-market industry which local doctors say is “out of control”.
Doctors are concerned a death in WA from a botched procedure is “only a matter of time”, after the death of a 35year-old beauty salon owner in Sydney a fortnight ago.
The woman allegedly received a lethal dose of anaesthetic during an attempt to inject filler into her breasts.
Patients are risking death from anaphylactic shock caused by local anaesthetic as well as a plethora of injuries from poorly administered fillers and laser treatments, such as disfigurement, burns, infections, skin death and blindness.
“What happened in Sydney can happen anywhere. These backyard jobs are a huge problem in WA,” Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery medical fellow Dr Glenn Murray said.
Dr Murray said doctors with no Australian registration and “non-doctors” who practised in non-medical fields are flying into the State from Asia, Eastern Europe, Pakistan and the Middle East to work illegally at beauty and cosmetic clinics.
“It’s out of control, it’s worse than you think, particularly with the cheap airfares you can get,” said the doctor who owns Absolute Cosmetics Medicine Nedlands.
Dr Murray said in addition to fly-in operators, there were WA resident “rogue” nurses and practitioners such as acupuncturists who could get hold of domestic and overseas cosmetic medical supplies, such as fillers and botox, to perform dangerous home jobs.
“A lot of beauticians are very good and well trained but then you’ve got others who are rogue, they’re in it for a quick buck,” he said.
“They let these people come and work out of their salons and they don’t check their registration, their insurance or their experience.”
He said 10 per cent of his business was “repair” work of botched jobs done in WA and overseas. Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia’s WA spokeswoman Dr Keturah Hoffman said rogue practitioners were taking advantage of gaps in regulations within the cosmetics industry.
Dr Hoffman said the gaps existed between the Medical Board of Australia which regulated doctors, the Therapeutic Goods Administration which was responsible for certain products, and the WA Health Department which policed regulations.
“If they would apply the legislation that’s in place we’d be better off but they don’t inspect, they don’t check — they’re just complaints driven. I guess that’s about lack of time and resources,” she said.
Dr Hoffman said restricting cosmetic procedures to doctors, or ensuring they were under a doctor’s supervision, would improve accountability.
Dr Murray said ensuring only doctors performed or oversaw procedures would place the cosmetics industry under a watchful eye.
He said authorities needed to treat risks more seriously.