Recently, a final-year medical student from the Madras Medical College died a day after undergoing a hair transplant procedure in the city. The doctors suspected the cause of the death could be anaphylaxis — an allergic reaction one develops after undergoing anaesthesia. More importantly, the centre was licensed only for cutting and styling hair and not conducting advanced procedures. The procedure went on for six hours, wherein tiny plugs of skin containing hair from the back of the scalp were implanted on the bald patches under local anaesthesia.
This is the side to cosmetic surgery that society doesn’t want to talk about — that they often involve multiple wounds, anaesthetic risks, and exposure to infection.
“A young medico loses his life after undergoing a virtually harmless procedure like hair transplantation,” says Dr G. Venkatesh Babu, consultant plastic reconstructive and aesthetic surgeon at Care Hospitals. “Deep introspection is required,” he adds.
After the medico’s needless death, plastic reconstructive and aesthetic surgeons are warning of the dangers of these procedures without carrying out proper medical checks and precautions.
Why are people crazy about needless surgeries? “Any surgery has ethical guidelines and protocols needs to be followed. Every patient has to earn his surgery so that it will be complete in its nature. Counselling is lacking in our system and needs to be improved. All these surgeries which are currently done in many hospitals should not be termed as needless/unwanted surgeries without clinical evidence. Few surgeries are gaining popularity because of focused importance by society within ethical guidelines. Today, the patient’s expectation and outcome of any treatment is very high and to meet this, probably tertiary care centres’ performance has gone up,” argues Dr CRK Prasad, senior laparoscopic & bariatric surgeon, Apollo Hospitals.
Dr N. Jithendran, consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Aware Global Hospitals, says, “It doesn’t come as a surprise that these days gynaecologists are doing liposuctions, ENT surgeons are doing hair transplants and orthopaedics are doing flap surgery and grafting! They are not qualified to do such surgeries. Even though obstetrics and gynecology have combined training, a gynec can’t perform liposuction.”
Leg-lengthening procedures were originally used to treat limb defects or injuries, but recently a growing trend has emerged and patients, especially youngsters, request doctors for the sole purpose of becoming taller.
“One should understand that these procedures range from simple to complex and have two sides of the coin: benefit and risk. The risk-benefit ratio has to be assessed before undergoing any procedure. If the risk is more than the benefit then it is better to avoid it,” explains Dr N. Jithendran.
The most popular cosmetic procedures are for making eyes rounder, slimming down jaws, or making noses pointier.
But is the industry out of control? “Patients are often brainwashed with the faulty logic of less expensive and less risky surgeries with lower downtime. The result is inadequate and very short lived. Example is someone whose facial skin and muscles are very lax. They needed surgery, but were treated by non-surgical methods, bringing a bad reputation to the profession. Most abused is skin lightening treatments... Injections, lasers and platelet rich plasma (prp). Another example is non-surgical liposuction. Laughable, liposuction is surgery, what is non-surgical liposuction? Huge billboards everywhere. Both non-medical and some medical personnel are responsible for this,” says Dr V. Sudhakar Prasad, plastic and cosmetic surgeon at Apollo Health City....