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The dark side of cosmetic surgery

Quebecs who privately pay thousands of dollars in cosmetic surgery see their dream turn into a nightmare, and sometimes have to undergo several costly surgeries to repair the damage.

• Also read: Difficult to win in court for a “messed up” operation

“Cosmetic surgery can turn into a nightmare,” admits Dr. Joseph Bou-Merhi, a plastic surgeon who practices privately in Verdun. When it’s been two, three, four times that you go under the knife that it doesn’t work, it’s exhausting for the pocket and the mind! It’s like a nightmare that never ends! »

Doctors have been advising Quebecs for years not to go abroad for aesthetic medicine, especially since medical standards are less stringent and the risks of surgery can be significant.

Although customers here pay a lot for cosmetic surgery (often more than $ 15,000), some suffer from surgical complications or fail miserably, Le Journal found by following discussion groups on social media.

Photo of Journal de Montreal, Chantal Poirier

The 40-year-old woman believed she had died last September, weeks after she developed an infection after cosmetic surgery. Here is one of the postoperative scars.

“It’s a jungle”

“If it works, it works.” But otherwise no one cares about you, “remarked the patient, who almost died.

Examples of problems: asymmetrical breasts or sagging implants, severe scars, pain or loss of sensation. In the worst cases, patients develop serious infections and must be hospitalized. Injecting fillings can also be risky.

“It’s the jungle right now.” You have to be informed, “warns Stéphanie Léonard, a psychologist specializing in body image issues.

Many clients seek advice on social media and rely on other clients to see more clearly (which surgeon to choose and which to avoid). The Journal has found that some Quebec doctors have a very bad reputation.

During the postoperative check-up, patients also stated that they were unable to contact their surgeon to correct the error or had to pay again. Others no longer trusted, preferring to look elsewhere. Get paid.

The Journal presents several testimonies from women who experienced horror after cosmetic surgery. They all testify anonymously, either because they are ashamed, in post-operative surveillance, or for fear of legal retaliation.

In addition, Quebec surgeons devote a third of their practice to repairing failed surgeries.

When money leads

“On a day when a plastic surgeon thinks more about his pocket than the well-being of his patients, he will stop being a doctor,” says Dr. Perry Gdalevitch, a specialist in this field.

Usually, all risks of the operation must be well explained. However, many customers are ill-informed and rush to sign a contract after a few minutes.

“Many are good sellers. They do not persist too much for side effects, one tends to minimize them. But the truth is that there are always possible complications, ”says Me Jean-François Leroux, a health specialist.

Cosmetic surgery in Quebec has increased by at least 20% since the pandemic, according to the Association of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgeons in Quebec. According to President Dr. Érica Bensimona, most clients are satisfied with the result and they are dissatisfied people, “who is the loudest”.