A coroner’s recent warning to authorities has prompted a whole new wave of cautions being issued to patients about the dangers of overseas plastic surgery. Coroner Caitlin English has spoken out after an investigation into the tragic death of a 31-year-old man following two marathon plastic surgery procedures in Malaysia in 2014.
Leigh Aiple died one day upon his return to Melbourne after visiting Kuala Lumpur’s Beverly Wilshire Clinic where he had two massive surgeries with several procedures performed in each including a 360 degree tummy tuck (body lift), thigh lift, liposuction, an upper eyelift, chin tuck, lip filler and chest sculpting. The first surgery alone was over 10 hours. The two surgeries were performed only days apart, cost Aiple a total of $35,000 and ultimately ended up costing him his life. Whilst the incident occurred a few years ago, the coroner’s report and warning has never been more timely with more and more patients heading overseas to take advantage of packages offered by medical tourism companies that appear to offer the same procedure for a much lower price. Unfortunately, what many patients don’t realise, is that standards of care including the surgeon’s experience and qualifications, hospital facilities and aftercare are hugely compromised by the lower price.
Australian standards would have recommended Aiple wait at least three months between the abdominal liposuction and tummy tuck and the other procedures. Despite Aiple complaining of intense pain, fainting spells, and open, seeping wounds in the immediate hours and days after his surgeries, he was cleared by his Malaysian surgeon to fly home to Australia.
Once home, Aiple continued to suffer blackouts, swelling and almost unbearable pain. He would ultimately lose his life from a blood clot that travelled from his leg to his lung and the plane ride home would have been the final catalyst for his death.
Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Justin Perron, based in Brisbane, performs many massive weight loss skin removal and body contouring procedures each year. He says, “I feel awful thinking about what the family has to go through, with the loss of a loved one. And while it’s easy to deflect blame onto patients, I think that’s misdirected. The companies that promote overseas surgery have no oversight by any regulatory body, they have questionable practices and ethics, and low interest in patient safety. on top of that, the low standards of healthcare practice in the hospitals and clinics, in many overseas countries is compounded by the ‘surgeons’ lack of training/experience, and very poor judgement with complex cases. in some countries, these clinics specifically target Australians, and are supported by the government in those countries!
I guess what I want to get across as well is the fact that if your decision is based on price, you can shop around here in Australia as well – and that’s something PSH can help you to do.”
Our message to you is that you might think you’re saving money initially, but isn’t your health more important than a few dollars? Not to mention the amount of revisions our Aussie surgeons perform each week to fix botched overseas surgeries.
Dr Mark Magnusson, president of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) says there are so many pitfalls when travelling overseas for any surgery. “There are many pitfalls to travelling overseas for cosmetic surgery that won’t be advertised in the glossy sales brochure, and while a short break combined with a cheap nip and tuck might sound like a good deal, a lifetime of pain and suffering doesn’t,” Dr Magnusson said. “The initial cost savings to your hip pocket may end up costing you and your health much more in the longer run.”
- It is estimated 15,000 Australians each year travel overseas for cosmetic and dental work.
- Overseas surgery, especially in “holiday surgery” destinations, is not at the same standard as that offered in Australia.
- Patient safety should be paramount, but where cost is an issue, it pays to shop around for a qualified and experienced Australian plastic surgeon.
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