UNDERBELLY OF THE AUSTRALIAN COSMETIC INDUSTRY

UNDERBELLY OF THE AUSTRALIAN COSMETIC INDUSTRY

 

Unbeknownst to the average Australian, there is an entire industry of thriving businesses performing cosmetic medical treatments without the supervision of an on-site doctor, or any doctor at all. In a country traditionally subject to bureaucracy and legislation, most assume that establishments publicly known as “clinics” would have passed scrutiny by the relevant authorities, while numerous home operators have mushroomed over the years trying to cash in. Many claim to be qualified doctors from overseas, and use medications of unknown origin and safety, offering cut price deals that sound too good to be true.

 

Unsuspecting consumers are convinced that such medical treatments are either performed by qualified personnel, or are minor enough to neglect safety in favour of pricing. This phenomenon is especially rampant in the Australian Chinese community, especially for those who prefer to visit establishments where customer service is available in their native language. These businesses rely on strong Chinese social media marketing, which is quite isolated from the mainstream Australian population and therefore extremely hard to police. Qualifications, infection control and the capacity to deal with medical emergencies are non-existent.

 

Strong-armed by aggressive sales with no medical qualifications and lured by the promise of everlasting beauty, many fall into the trap of receiving treatments which yield little to no result in the best case scenarios, while ending up with cosmetically disfiguring conditions or worse, life-long disability, even death.

 

There have been multiple incidents in recent years, the latest being a 35 year old lady who suffered a cardiac arrest after receiving a treatment at a beauty establishment in an inner city district famous for unsupervised medical treatments. The patient has unfortunately passed away after being admitted to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for critical treatment.

 

Prior to this there were other minor incidents, including an illegal operator unceremoniously depositing a patient on the sidewalk after a fainting episode that occurred during treatment, closing up shop for weeks to avoid any prosecution, then resuming a flourishing business once the coast was clear. In 2016, the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) released official statements after receiving numerous complaints about non-registered practitioners performing illegal cosmetic procedures advertised on Wechat, a Chinese social media platform. The most serious of these was of a double eyelid procedure performed in a Sydney residential apartment resulting in severe bruising and scarring for the patient.

 

The Australasian College of Asian Aesthetics (ACAA) is the first medical training body in Australasia to focus on Asian facial aesthetics. A collaboration between cosmetic physicians, plastic surgeons and dermatologists, the ACAA brings together the top minds of the industry to raise practice standards and safety, addressing the specific cosmetic nuances of a highly represented demographic in the Australian community and educating the general public on legitimate cosmetic practice.

 

“Enhancing beauty safely and ethically, achieving greater heights in cosmetic practice.” – Australasian College of Asian Aesthetics.

 

It is actually not the lack of regulation of the cosmetic medicine industry, but the lack of enforcement due to jurisdiction limitations. Legitimate providers will always comply with regulations, going above and beyond to make sure patients are safe. AHPRA can only regulate medical practitioners and lack jurisdiction over non-medical personnel. Only when a criminal offence is committed does the police step in, by which time it is already too late. The illegal sale of restricted medications over the internet has been unbridled for some time, not to mention blatant advertising of overseas doctors as qualified medical specialists performing procedures in many beauty establishments, but is extremely difficult to investigate and prosecute.

 

To reduce risk to public health and safety, the Australasian College of Asian Aesthetics (ACAA) recommends that all patients be empowered in educating themselves fully on the benefits and risks of any treatment they choose to receive, and to verify the credentials of their chosen practitioner on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website.

 

The challenge remains to raise awareness of these issues within the Australian Chinese community due to language barriers and perceived difficulty accessing information from credentialing agencies, which the ACAA hopes to address.

 

 

Contact Information:
Public Relations Officer
Dr Danae Lim
Cosmetic Physician

www.acaa.com.au
info@acaa.com.au

 

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Therapeutic Goods Administration www.tga.gov.au
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency www.ahpra.gov.au
Plastic Surgery Hub www.plasticsurgeryhub.com.au
Chinese Doctor www.chinesedoctor.com.au