A recent ABC Four Corners investigation found that patients at an Eastern suburbs cosmetic surgery clinic were being duped with low-cost procedures for as little as $5990 being carried out by non-qualified doctors.
Even worse, the clinic was located next door to Centrelink in Bondi Junction, with a source telling Four Corners that “one in five” patients was on government benefits. The clinic’s marketing “preyed on women who were divorced, who were single and who were low socio-economic status,” she said.
A former operations manager for the clinic admitted to the ABC that the system “was set up to make money – it was a boob factory”.
Former patients who have suffered from post-procedure complications are now suing the clinic.
But this example is just one of many low-cost breast augmentation clinics operating nationally. With a production-line business model aimed at getting as much volume through the door as possible, together with the cost-saving measure of using doctors who are not qualified surgeons, these clinics are getting rich at the expense of patients.
The prevalence of such low-quality clinics has led to a spike in the number of women suffering from complications, necessitating the establishment of an integrated breast implant check clinic at Macquarie University, the first of its kind in the world.
In fact, there has been an increase in the number of patient’s seeking breast revision surgeries. Dr Yunaev says that “breast revisions may be necessary for a variety of reasons breast asymmetry; bottoming out, capsular contracture, double bubbles, implant rippling or wrinkling and rupturing to name a few – many of them avoidable by choosing a suitably qualified and experienced surgeon the first time. Patients find their way to me after they’ve had problems already and come to get them sorted.”
The last decade has seen a huge increase in the demand for cosmetic surgery. This demand has been met with an increase in clinics offering a variety of services.
To the public, all service providers may seem equal. But the quality and care varies significantly between long-established and appropriately trained accredited plastic or oncoplastic breast surgeons and these newer, low-cost operators.
Unfortunately many in the public see the entire cosmetic surgery industry as one entity; hence the negative perception caused by clinics such that in the Four Corners report unfortunately extends to many caring, accredited surgeons. The low-cost ‘boob-factory’ approach also impacts on the overall value perception from the public, who seems to be more focused in finding a surgical bargain over prioritising their own health and safety.
But unlike many low-cost clinics, an approved surgeon will never try to persuade you. Rather, they will encourage you to do your research. They will provide information to inform your decision but never try to influence it. They will ensure you understand your expectations and the potential risks involved.
Only qualified cosmetic surgeons are equipped to deal with the plethora of possible complications that can arise from breast augmentation surgery. These can range from implants rupturing and leaking to deformity, pain and infections. Left unchecked, these can become major issues.
This is why it is vital that if you are considering undergoing a breast augmentation procedure, you should only have it done by a government accredited Specialist Surgeon.
Every surgery carries with it some degree of risk, but you can reduce your risk significantly by ensuring you use a qualified surgeon, an accredited and reputable anaesthetist and having your procedure done at an accredited and reputable facility.
We are lucky in Australia to have excellent accredited surgeons, a world-class hospital system and many day clinics that adhere to the highest standards.
Low-cost clinics can promise you the world, but only a reputable, qualified surgeon can deliver the best results and the lowest risk of complications.
When it comes to your health, choosing a low-cost option to save money in the short term just isn’t worth it.
About Dr Michael Yunaev
Dr Michael Yunaev is an Oncoplastic Breast, General and Cosmetic Surgeon and is the Principal Doctor at Breast & Body Clinic. Dr Yunaev is a highly trained Surgeon with extensive experience and passion for the treatment of all aspects of Breast Cancer Surgery, Benign and Congenital Breast Disease and Aesthetic Breast Surgery, as well as General Surgery.