Beware backyard “practitioners”

Health authorities have issued a warning to Australians about the dangers of undergoing cosmetic treatments carried out by unregistered people in homes and apartments around the country.

The danger around these procedures was highlighted when NSW Health recently urged anyone who had undergone a cosmetic procedure at a residential apartment in Five Docks in Sydney to see their GP for a blood test for blood born viruses.

NSW Chief Health Office Dr Kerry Chant said people who had received treatment from Ms Pu Liu, also known as Mabel Liu, should seek tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

The risks of using unregistered practitioners

Earlier this month The Age published an article highlighting the terrible damage which can be done when cosmetic procedures are carried out by people with no proper qualifications.

Helena Chen bravely stepped up to show the damage caused to her eyes after she underwent double eyelid surgery with Pu Liu in March.

As a result of the botched surgery, Ms Chen has been left with one eye larger than the other, and faces a wait of several months to find out if she has suffered permanent damage at the hands of Ms Liu.

After seeing Ms Liu’s services advertised on social network WeChat, Ms Chen attended the apartment in Five Docks where she says she was subjected to eight hours of painful “surgery” on a single bed in one of the apartment’s bedrooms.

Ms Chen told The Age: “Three times she stitched my left eyelid, then pulled [the sutures] out, then re-stitched them. I screamed at her. I yelled out I need more pain killer injections. She’d do a stitch, then she’d pick up her phone and open a door and leave the room. Then she’d come back in and start stitching again without washing her hands.”

Following the botched surgery Ms Chen has consulted three registered cosmetic physicians who have told her she will need to wait for her eyes to properly heal so the damage can be properly assessed; this will take around six months.

Issues spark new laws in NSW

In June, New South Wales health Minister Jillian Skinner announced new laws to try and prevent further botched backyard procedures like those outlined above. From 2017, procedures such as liposuction, breast implants and tummy tucks can only be carried out in facilities which have the same licensing standards which exist in private hospitals.

Plastic surgeons around Australia have been lobbying for laws such as these for a long time now. While it’s a great start that NSW has taken this step, it’s also important that the same outcome is realised in every state and territory.

Choosing the right practitioner for your cosmetic procedure

If you’re considering undergoing a cosmetic procedure, we understand money is going to be a huge consideration. Everyone wants to get the best value for money. But is it really worth it to risk your health for the sake of saving what may only be a few hundred dollars?

In many cases, the prices these backyard practitioners are charging can only be marginally less than fully qualified practitioners, but the risks really do outweigh any small difference in the price. The old adages “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”, and “you get what you pay for”, are so true in this situation.

When you choose a qualified plastic surgeon who is registered with the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, you know they are fully trained and qualified, will only operate in accredited facilities, will adhere to a strict ethics code, and regularly undergo further education. Find out more here.

Mr Dean White MBBS FRACS is a highly trained plastic and reconstructive surgeon, has passed the rigorous examinations necessary to become a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and only operates at fully accredited hospitals.

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