Tension as more GPs enter beauty business

SINGAPORE - Plastic surgeons and general practitioners (GPs) here have not seen eye to eye over aesthetic medicine.

While plastic surgeons say they are best qualified to provide the service, GPs feel they are giving their patients what they want.

Tensions started rising as the number of GPs dabbling in the business of beauty mushroomed. It was further fuelled in July 2005 when the Ministry of Health said it favoured a hands-off policy on the practice of aesthetic medicine here.

Plastic surgeons felt then that the move would undermine the efforts of the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) and the Specialist Accreditation Board, which, for many years, had strived to create and maintain the specialists' register and improve medical standards.

Another sign of tension was in October 2008 when SMC announced that it would not recognise titles such as "aesthetic specialists" or "cosmetic surgeons" that had, up to that point, been used by GPs wanting to dabble in aesthetics.

These doctors then had to remove the titles from their namecards, letters, signboards, placards and fliers.

And then there was Dr Zubin Medora who was rapped twice for misleading people into thinking he is a trained plastic surgeon.

Plastic surgeons also have complained to the media that that some GPs offer liposuction, an invasive procedure for removing excess fat from under the skin by suction.

The issue was thrown into the spotlight when property firm chief Franklin Heng died after having liposuction at a clinic in 2009.

It is estimated that more than 5,000 liposuction procedures are carried out in Singapore every year.

In general, GPs tend to charge lower fees than plastic surgeons.

The rules governing GPs performing liposuction were tightened in November 2010 after the Franklin Heng case.

Doctors who perform this procedure now have to register with a professional committee. As of Oct 31 this year, 38 GPs are accredited by the Accreditation Committee on Liposuction to perform liposuction in their clinics.

juditht@sph.com.sg


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