Saturday, August 26, 2006

A City of Aging Barbies

I was reading the Sun-Herald of Sydney yesterday and the headline "Risky scalpel tours cut into taxpayers' pockets" caught my eye. The article was about Australians who suffer from botched cosmetic surgery overseas costing taxpayers thousands of dollars when they undergo remedial and reconstructive surgery in public hospitals back on their home turf.

Cosmetic holidays are vigorously advertised in women magazines promising cheap plastic surgeries in mostly Third World countries. The majority of victims of these botched jobs are girls in their early 20s wanting low-cost breast augmentation and liposuction and women over 35 wanting multiple surgeries. These ladies wanted to look good but could not afford the dollar price tags so they went further afield. The director of one cosmetic holiday agent, Gorgeous Getaways, confirmed that her clients were mostly mums and working-class people.

Chairman of NSW Health's surgical services taskforce, Dr Patrick Cregan, said people opting for cheap overseas surgery risk having unqualified surgeons and non-accredited facilities. Australian plastic surgeons are reporting dozens of cases of complications including infections, hair loss, "hideous" scarring, paralysis and failed implants from cut-price "scalpel tourism" packages overseas. These disfigured patients are then forced to rely on the Australian public health system, Medicare, for revision surgery.

A Sydney doctor said he treated one patient every six to eight weeks who had been abandoned by her overseas surgeon once complications arose. A Sydney grandmother had a tummy tuck in a clinic in Bangkok that became infected. She had had three operations, including a skin graft, in Sydney. This woman would require further procedures to remove the skin on her abdomen. "She is looking at major reconstructive surgery, and it will be in a public hospital. It is not easy to salvage these cases, [so] is it really fair for Australian taxpayers to foot the bill when something goes wrong overseas?" he questioned.

Reportedly, there has also been an increasing burden on embassy staff helping Australians suffering complications not only in Bangkok, but the Philippines, Indonesia, Argentina, Iran and Ukraine.

I would suggest to any potential cosmetic surgery patient coming to Argentina for their operation, first spend an afternoon people watching at the Recoleta establishment, La Biela. There, they are sure to be able observe a fair few post-op shockers; whether they then decide to go through with surgery in this country would depend as much on their sense of aesthetics as their appetite for risks.

An equally eye-opeing place to observe a typical Latin American boob job is the ladies' changing room of Megatlon, Las Cañitas. Women sporting "George Hamilton" tan and gravity defying breasts seem to love parading in that small area without a stitch more than their tiny G-string. They would probably feel insulted if the rest of the room don't look; actually, it is rather difficult to know where else to cast one's eyes to avoid such grotesque meddling with nature.

Speaking of freaks of nature, I came across these pictures posted by a fellow blogger living in Argentina and he is promising an in-depth report, soon, on porteñas' obsession with cosmetic surgery and anorexia nervosa.

No diet is going to give women bigger breasts but if it is liposuction one is after, why not try eating sensibly and exercise? Being healthy is the first step towards real beauty, all other ways aren't going to fool anyone for long.

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