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Is the beauty business skin deep?

15 August 2014 08:10 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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While the beauty  industry and cosmetic products have become thriving businesses the world over, cosmetic surgery  has become a major business in Sri Lanka. Despite controversy over their quality and professional standards, resulting in so many  raids on dubious establishments described as “beauty clinics” which are mushrooming in the country today.

The controversy reached its climax when a female medical practitioner attached to the Colombo Lady Ridgeway Hospital died  on Tuesday after having undergone cosmetic surgery. The  doctor who performed the operation has had his “clinic” and “operation theatre” in a small room in a flat in Bambalapitiya. Dr. Nimal Gamage is well-known for his work in this field and has been featured on many newspapers and television programmes. He has been performing cosmetic surgery since 2009.
He claims  to have more than 25 years of experience in carrying out cosmetic surgery,  including a practice in the United States. According to his own website www.lankacosmetic.com, Dr. Gamage says that his name is listed as a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. Supporting his credibility, there are YouTube videos of him performing surgery on patients in his “operation theatre” at  Bambalapitiya.

However, some  medical practitioners say that on several occasions they have complained about this particular doctor’s qualifications but the authorities had failed to take action.

 Dailymirror spoke to some of the medical professionals about their opinion on this case and the measures that must be taken.





Public must be vigilant; beauticians pose as doctors




Government Medical officers’Association (GMOA Spokesman Dr. Navin Soysa, said there were around 40,000 non-qualified doctors in the country. He said it was mandatory to have a registry for doctors.

“There are some 40,000 non-qualified people who practise as doctors in the country.  A person is not considered a doctor if he is not registered under the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC), Ayurvedic Council or the Homoeopathic Council. It is a must to get registered under one of these. Since the case of fake doctors has  existed for some time now,  they took the initiative to make a registry for registered doctors under these three institutions. Unfortunately only the SLMC prepared such a list,” he said.

Dr. Soysa said if there was a list for registered doctors, it would be easier for the police in their investigations. He said the situation was worse when it came to specialist doctors.

“We do not have an evaluation system for the doctors who are qualified abroad. In 2012, along with the Ministry we took the initiative to prepare a registry of specialist doctors. But it had to be halted as a private hospital went to Court against it. But cases like these in fact show the need of a registry and also  of a Foreign Specialist Evaluation System (FSES). This case got highlighted only because it is a death of a doctor. But there are many other victims,” Dr. Soysa said.

He said women, especially Asian women,  prefered to have such surgeries performed  by  an unknown person. Unlike in Western cultures, they would perform such surgeries quietly, without seeking a second opinion. These doctors who have private clinics also get publicity through media and they spend large amounts of money for their publicity. As Dr. Soysa points out, journalists are  helpless and misguided as they do not have a way of checking whether these doctors are actually qualified.

Furthermore he said the Private Medical Institution Regulation Act, which was brought  when Nimal Siripala de Silva was the Minister of Health failed to satisfy the purpose.


There are some 40,000 non-qualified people who practise as doctors in the country.  Since the case of fake doctors has  existed for some time now,  they took the initiative to make a registry for registered doctors under three institutions. Unfortunately only the SLMC prepared such a list




“The Private Medical Institution Regulation Act (PMIRA) did not have the content which we expected of it. It did not have anything to do with improving the quality of care of the medical sector. Rather, it was aimed at collecting more taxes from private medical institutions. When we objected,  the president instructed to amend the Act in 2007. So far this amendment has not been implemented. In fact the Act itself is not active. The only part which is active in the said act is charging of a fee when registering a private hospital or practice,” he said.

Dr. Soysa said the public must be careful when undergoing such treatment.

“The general public must be vigilant. There are beauticians who pose as doctors prescribing medicine, people who practise hypnotism and even body building. They cannot prescribe medicine as doctors do. Therefore please be more aware,” he said.
 



 

Don’t go to beauty parlours blindly




The CAA Chairman Rumy Marzook said  they needed the help of the public.
“We have carried out many raids with regard to cosmetics during the past few years. Public needs to be more vigilant when they go to a beauty parlour and the products that are being used. Do not go blindly,” he said.
Mr. Marzook said the CAA has been battling not only with cosmetics, but also with food items, water, etc.
He said if the public have information with regard to cosmetics or any other products which were backdated or sub standard they should lodge their complaints on 2399146. If they wish to give information in person to the Chairman they can contact him on 0717 220 444.
“They can either contact our officials or can personally contact me. I will personally investigate the matter,” he said.
‘A medical practitioner needs to have a proper practice’



We have carried out many raids during the past few years. Public needs to be more vigilant when they go to a beauty parlour and the products that are being used




 

Be cautious when applying cosmetics



The Head of National Centre for Medical Toxicology and Poison Information, National Hospital Colombo commenting on allergies that can occur, said they can symptomatically differ from person to person.

“An allergic reaction can wary widely symptomatically. It could be a mild skin irritation or some other mild symptom. In severe spectrum, it could cause sudden lowering of  blood pressure or  breathing difficulty, which is  most lethal and dangerous. If not attended to immediately, the result can be  death,” he said.
Dr. Gunathilake said an allergy was a defect that came out of the body against a foreign protein introduced to it.

Once the foreign protein enters  the system, the immune system develops some anti bodies against the foreign protein. As a result,   people might get  either a mild reaction or  a severe one.

“There are four types of reactions. The severe one out of these is called anaphylactic shock. Most of the time, it is impossible to predict such a reaction. When it comes to cosmetic products, anything from a mild reaction to a severe reaction can occur. One may encounter an anaphylactic shock even from a hair dye.

Unfortunately it is difficult to predict.  That is why producers warn that clients should test  the hair dye before applying  to see whether the substance is allergic or not. If there is no reaction,  then it is safe to use,” he said

.

An allergic reaction can wary widely symptomatically. It could be a mild skin irritation or some other mild symptom. In severe spectrum, it could cause sudden lowering of  blood pressure or  breathing difficulty, which is  most lethal and dangerous.




If a Type One reaction, which is anaphylactic shock,  occurs,  it cannot be handled by an ordinary person or an ordinary clinic. The services of an experienced medical practitioner are required. It could be disastrous if a person who did not have expertise handle such a situation.

Dr. Gunathilake said it was better to guard ourselves.

“If you have a common allergy be cautious when applying cosmetic products or even food items. That’s the best way to guard yourself,” he said.
 





Ministry failed to take action on Dr. Nimal Gamage



Dr. Thushan Beneragama- Consultant, Plastic Surgeon National Hospital of Colombo said they have informed the ministry about the arrested Dr. Nimal Gamage,  and some other people who claim to be doctors, but the ministry did not take any action.

“On several occasions we wrote to the ministry  about the said doctor and also about a few others. But no action has been taken. These people appear on media spending enormous amounts and mislead the public. Under the code of ethics any public or private medical establishment cannot advertise. But most of the people who operate beauty parlors  carry out cosmetic surgery registered as business ventures.  This practice must be stopped immediately,” he said.

Dr. Beneragama said the news of this case  spread widely across the country due to a death of a doctor. But in actual fact there were many other patients who have been victims of such doctors.

“Since the current incident was reported the attention was drawn to it widely. But there are many incidents which have gone under the carpet. We have treated patients who have gone to the said doctor and got severe reactions. Although we told them to lodge a complaint, they did not do so,” he said.

Dr. Beneragama said that they have received information about some other people who pose as cosmetic surgeons around Colombo. “If immediate action is not taken,there will be many more cases and the situation will become much more serious,” he said.



Since the current incident was reported the attention was drawn to it widely. But there are many incidents which have gone under the carpet. We have treated patients who have gone to the said doctor and got severe reactions. Although we told them to lodge a complaint, they did not do so


The plastic surgeon further said as responsible citizens, it was essential to check the background of the doctor and  the place of consultation. Clients should  seek a second opinion prior to going for cosmetic surgery.
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  • Punny Pellow Saturday, 16 August 2014 01:24 AM

    Now they are all talking. It was a specialist Dr. who had gone for treatment.


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