Materia Medica Malaysiana

January 27, 2008

Courting misery with a nip and tuck

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 4:40 pm

NST: SHE wanted big breasts but ended up without breasts.
Twenty-eight-year-old Anna Teoh (name changed to protect her identity) never failed to get flattering looks from men and women, yet she was dissatisfied. She felt bigger breasts would make her even more attractive and decided on breast augmentation.
She chose a doctor who came highly recommended by friends. The doctor, she was told, was from Taiwan and was in Kuala Lumpur on a holiday.
After the operation, Teoh started feeling sore. But she ignored it as the “surgeon” had warned her it was to be expected. After a few sleepless nights and days of pain, she noticed that her breasts were swollen and painful to the touch. Worse, pus was oozing at the area operated on.
She rushed to a hospital, where she underwent an emergency double mastectomy because of severe infection.
Teoh’s story is but one example of how the quest for beauty can go horribly wrong.
The MCA Public Service and Complaints Department has received more than 10 complaints of cosmetic surgeries going awry, according to its head Datuk Michael Chong.
“The problem is, some of these women did not go to a properly certified surgeon. They sought out ‘doctors’ or ‘surgeons’ through advertisements in the newspaper. In some cases, the ‘doctors’ had conspired with beauticians to be recommended to potential customers.
“When the patients realise their lives are in danger, they seek our help and we refer them for medical treatment, or for legal advice when the cases involved certified surgeons.”
He said these women would go for the surgery even when it was done in places such as hotel rooms, the backroom of a beauty salon or a house.
“No self-respecting doctor or surgeon would operate in hotel rooms. But these women choose to listen to their friends or to beauticians.”
Faced with this problem, the Health Ministry ruled last October that breast implants, liposuction, eyelid surgery, laser and light-based therapies and hair transplants should not be done by private general practitioners.
The restriction also extended to the use of Vitamin C, placental extract, stem cells and growth hormones by these “physicians”.
This, it appears, has had little effect, and the ministry is working on several proposals and drafts to amend the law.
In the meantime, it is business as usual for these “wellness” centres, beauty salons and “physicians”. One company even promises a one-stop shop for “your every need”.
One reason why some women prefer to have cosmetic surgery done by general practitioners or “physicians” at beauty parlours or hotel rooms is that it is cheaper.
According to lawyer P.S. Ranjan, a consultant in medical ethics, some patients were penny-wise and pound foolish. “They plan to save money when they go for such treatments, but basically they get what they pay for.
“They should go to someone with the proper qualifications and experience. Beauticians and traditional healers claim to do all sorts of things. These quacks and charlatans should be dealt with severely. Patients should be clear of who they are going to and have reasonable expectations.”
He said cosmetic surgery had therapeutic value as it could make people happy.
“In some cases, it can improve the patient’s quality of life. But, sometimes, what they really need is not a cosmetic surgeon but a good friend, counsellor, husband or boyfriend.”
Added Ranjan, “You should not live by others’ expectations. Symmetry is one of the things cosmetic aspects are concerned with, but all of us are asymmetrical. You can learn to live with perceived defects. After all, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”

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