New Podcast Aims To Uncover The ‘Dark Side’ of Cosmetic Surgery

Whistleblowers take their shocking findings on air.

Today, a new podcast called Surgery Secrets: Beauty’s Dark Side has launched, exploring the dark themes in the cosmetic surgery industry with some of Australia’s leading experts. Produced and hosted by Michael Fraser and Maddison Johnstone (pictured above), episodes will cover the illegal and immoral behaviour within Australia’s cosmetic surgery industry, body image, regulation and more.

Fraser and Johnstone are consumer and work advocates who helped expose some of the most prominent corporate scandals in Australia, including within the cosmetic surgery sector, after they received a call from a whistleblower in 2020. This led to several TV documentaries exposing healthcare professionals’ unprofessional, and often, illegal conduct. “It was really disturbing to see so many doctors advertising in a way that was demeaning and minimising,” says Johnstone on the podcast.

The ‘Cosmetic Cowboy’ exposés resulted in AHPRA commissioning a report and ultimately releasing their new guidelines on July 1 this year. Over 1,000 patients have joined a class action lawsuit against one of the exposed doctors’ clinic chains, with several other practitioners banned from practicing and/or operating.

“Aesthetic plastic surgery, also known as cosmetic surgery, is an industry swallowed by positive marketing and glamourisation. Social media has played a significant role in minimising the risks of going under the knife while curating feeds of only beautiful results. The dark side is never explored. This podcast will be the balance the industry needs; the voice the industry doesn’t want you to hear,” the team behind the podcast says.

Guests will include nurse whistleblower Justin Nixon, Professor Anand Deva, Dr Margaret Faux, Dr Veya Seekis, and Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) representative Jason McHeyzer.

In an exclusive interview with us, Michael Fraser gave us more insight into the “why” behind the podcast:

What was your main motivation to start this podcast?

We started this podcast to create a global discussion about improving standards in the industry and ensuring the public have access to better information about any procedures they are considering. Risks are often downplayed and procedures are being increasingly promoted as beauty treatments that improve self esteem. These are medical procedures and we believe the reality is very different. 

Are you currently working on exposing more problems/illegal behaviour in the cosmetic surgery industry?

The podcast is focused on hearing from expert voices about the real risk and cost of procedures. However, we are still investigating potentially systemic issues in this industry and will work with the media to ensure matters of public interest are brought to light. Our research for an episode of our podcast found Haytox was being promoted as TGA Approved and our questions to the TGA triggered a public warning to any practitioners using and promoting the product.

Do you think the industry has improved this year?

The industry has improved a lot, in part to AHPRA’s new guidelines, which ultimately came about due to the efforts of whistleblowers Justin Nixon and Lauren Hewish, and groups like ours who lobbied for higher standards. Unfortunately, many practitioners are still breaching the advertising rules, sharing misinformation and copying from others who are not compliant. We would encourage any practitioner offering surgery or injectables to take the time to go through all the relevant advertising guidelines line by line directly from the source to ensure they are compliant and don’t receive a letter from a regulator.

The podcast Surgery Secrets: Beauty’s Dark Side, is now available on Apple and Spotify.

Read the latest issue of SPA+CLINIC below:

There are 5 ways you can catch up with SPA+CLINIC

  1. Our quarterly print magazine, delivered to your door. Subscribe here.
  2. Our website, which is updated daily with its own completely unique content and breaking news.
  3. Our weekly newsletter – free to your inbox! Subscribe here.
  4. Our digital magazine – click here to view previous issues.
  5. Our social media – see daily updates on our InstagramFacebook Linkedin

Recommended Articles