Dermatologist and social media star, Dr Daniel Lanzer, has come under fire with an episode of ABC’s Four Corners that aired Monday night revealing a joint investigation with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age into his practices that labelled him a ‘cosmetic cowboy’.
Dr Lanzer has long been considered one of Australia’s most well-known cosmetic surgeons with multiple day surgeries and clinics across the country, his own TV show and a combined 20 million social media followers.
The Four Corners episode exposed a number of alleged wrongdoings as told by former staff members and unhappy patients. A number of plastic surgeons were also involved in the exposé that detailed issues around safety and hygiene in Dr Lanzer’s clinics, unethical video content, botched procedures and cases where patients have been left in serious ongoing pain.
Video footage alleges ‘dangerous’ practices
Images and video from inside one of his surgeries paint a picture of hygiene protocol breaches that former head of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, Professor Mark Ashton, described as “frankly dangerous.” He told Four Corners, “There is no sterility, there is no concept of sterility, and how this is allowed to occur, is … is bewildering.” Syringes and bags of fat were shown in a fridge alongside drinking water and surgical equipment being stored amongst employee belongings.
Two Registered Nurses and former employees of Dr Lanzer detailed unethical practices with Justin Nixon telling Four Corners that Dr Lanzer’s Melbourne clinic was “absolute chaos”.
“Multiple surgeries running throughout the day, doctors going from room to room,” he says. “It’s just bloody, messy, gruesome, chaotic. It was guilt that weighed on me, having sold people these shitty outcomes.”
The ‘turf war’ continues
Much of the controversy surrounding Dr Lanzer is about the ongoing debate over the title of Cosmetic Surgeon, one that’s not recognised as a professional medical qualification in Australia.
Talking about the investigation, Dr Lanzer insisted in a video posted to his Instagram that the allegations have been brought on by a “turf war” and “jealousy” from select plastic surgeons who are unhappy with the success he has achieved without undergoing the specific training required to become qualified as a plastic surgeon himself.
The video also promised to expose the “truth” behind the investigation with another video set to be shared via YouTube.
Dr Lanzer shared a press release in response to the investigation
In a press release, Dr Lanzer said “It is a shame that the media outlets have aired selective claims by a few disgruntled competitors, ex-employees and patients without proper investigation or scrutiny of their veracity.
“Our six clinics around Australia have the highest standards of hygiene and safety, and our two-day hospitals comply with the highest National Safety and Quality in Health Service requirements, and we place this area as one of our major priorities.
“I have performed more than 30,000 liposuctions and other procedures for many thousands of patients over the last 30 years and have never received a single ruling or recommendation against me regarding my methods of surgery or my patients’ care.
“I am a pioneer in large volume liposuction (called mega liposuction) and have performed this operation for thousands on an outpatient basis without a single serious complication. The fat shown in the Four Corners’ report was never used for future procedures but part of a fat bank study and was safely disposed of.
“It is a shame that the few people in the story with an axe to grind against me have been given an airing on the national broadcaster. Both ex-employees had made demands for money before going to the media with their false accusations and staged photos.
“The basis of the story, including the unhappy patients, have all originated out of the shameful, one-sided turf war between plastic surgeons and other surgeons. The three plastic surgeons who defamed me in the story are jealous about the fact that I perform many more surgeries than them, with magnificent results and an extremely low complication rate.
“Indeed, several of the surgeons’ patients have come to me for corrective surgery after they failed in their procedures.
“It is a shame that Four Corners selected three patients from the thousands I have treated without complications over three decades. The Medical Board dismissed the complaint of Donna Patterson, who appeared as the main case study in the Four Corners’ program”, he concluded.
We will be updating this story as new information emerges.
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