Remember Actress Aarthi Agarwal who died mid 2015? She had underwent liposuction thrice in India before she decided to take up the same surgery in USA for the fourth time! It was sad that Media decided to blame it on Liposuction and the fact that she died of Fat Embolism, which does not happen after four weeks of surgery! Internet was flooded with news which pretty much read as “Aarthi and her unsuccessful attempts to reduce weight through liposuction which subsequently lead to her death” It is sad that the media stopped talking once they were done with her death; they did not publish any information from the postmortem reports because the reason of her death was not due to liposuction. Why would the Media go on a apology note? Similarly there was this rumour that a medical student died due to hair transplant. It is one of the most safest cosmetic procedure, provided it is done by a properly trained Surgeon and his team. If such patients chose to take up such procedure by unqualified people conducting surgeries in a highly unprofessional manner – the results can only be this drastic. The media instead of highlighting the importance of selecting qualified Doctors, decided to highlight the death and blamed the whole community of surgeons for the same, including the professionally run Clinics/ Hospitals
Even Bariatric Surgeries are mislead by the media. This is indeed a major procedure and is done by trained Gastroenterologist. This procedure is nothing but weight loss that is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band or through removal of a portion of the stomach. Due to the underlying complications involved, only seasoned specialists are allowed to conduct this surgery. Any failure in Bariatric Surgery is directly linked by the media to liposuction unfortunately with no relevance.
We decided to speak to Dr. Karthik Ram, Cosmetic Surgeon to throw light into this unambiguity.
Journalist: Hello Doctor, there is so much controversy revolving around ‘liposuction’ when the reason is not anywhere close to it. As cosmetic surgeon what is your trigger point to be “beware with this patient”
Dr. Karthik Ram: When many patients carry celebrity photographs and compare their bodies to the former. They want features and body just like these celebs and that to us is a sign to be very careful. Secondly, when a patient starts to complaint about the work done by previous surgeons on them, we put on our ‘alarm hat’. We understand if their ex surgeons had done a bad job, but most of them do a good job while the patients continue to complain about them. Thirdly, when there are unrealistic expectations. As a Cosmetic Surgeon with so many years of experience, we can categorically say what is and what is not possible on a patient’s body. When these patients try to push us to the point where we feel it would be dangerous for both of us, then we take a step back.
Journalist: So when these controversies were in the peak – be it Aarthi Agarwal or the hair transplant incident of medical student, did it affect your profession. If yes, to what extent?
Dr. Karthik Ram: Such wrong limelight costed us 50% reduction in the enquiry stage itself and nearly 10 -30% of the booked surgeries or procedures got cancelled. That’s a lot, you know!
Journalist: List us the top five problems you face with your patients on a day-to-day level?
Dr. Karthik Ram: I would say, trying to push for a bigger surgery or procedure when we know it is inappropriate for them, secondly, finding any small issue after the surgery – something that is not even visible to the naked eye. Thirdly, bargaining for price and this part is very sad because no one argues in any shopping mall when they buy clothes; but when it comes to a hospital where their life is involved – they bargain to death. Another big problem we face is concealing of information by patients – they do not reveal their previous surgeries at the time of consultation, which we discover to our horror only on the operating table. Many are hardly on time for appointments since this is not on their priority list, which obviously has a chain reaction.
Journalist: Your advise to people who come to your clinic for any surgery?
Dr. Karthik Ram: Check the Doctors qualification in detail before you visit them. Cosmetic Surgeries can only be done by Cosmetic Surgeon and not by Dermatologist or a Dentist. Put down your queries and get them clarified with the doctor. If you have your own ‘before and after version of the picture’ please show them to the Doctor and check if they can do it. Let transparency prevail in the whole process.
Journalist: What do you expect of the media?
Dr. Karthik Ram: Analyze the issue in front of you completely. Just for the sake of increasing readership rate and the sensation it creates, do not focus on the wrong side of the story. Ask the appropriate doctors for the interview and show them the interview details before publishing.
Journalist: How is the situation in the West?
Dr. Karthik Ram: They are quite aware of such procedures and are far more inclined to do their research before they take decisions. Media’s role however is the same!