Breast Implants – Not Beauty Treatments

Last Friday (September 15) it was revealed that five women, including one who allegedly suffered a heart attack, are taking legal action against a high profile cosmetic surgery clinic over “botched breast implants”.

The lawsuit, filed in the NSW Supreme Court, alleges The Cosmetic Institute breached its duty of care by having a one-size-fits-all approach to breast augmentations.

The class action covers women who underwent breast augmentation surgery at TCI premises in Bondi Junction and Parramatta in Sydney, and on the Gold Coast, along with those conducted by TCI at Concord and Holroyd Private Hospitals in Sydney.

It is being spearheaded by five applicants, including a mother from Western Australia who suffered a heart attack after surgery began, after she was allegedly given high doses of local anaesthetic.

Another woman said she suffered seizures as a result of high doses of local anaesthetic, while a Queensland student says she developed a severe infection after surgery.

Turner Freeman lawyer Sally Gleeson says the company has left a “trail of victims”.

“These women have suffered a range of complications including cardiac arrests from toxic doses of anaesthesia, lung punctures, infections and physical disfigurement,” Ms Gleeson said in a statement on Friday.

The statement of claim alleges TCI used the same surgical technique regardless of a woman’s size or breast shape and did not perform procedures in line with standards

In a brief statement, TCI pledged to defend the allegations should the matter proceed.

The following story is not a commentary on or speculation about this case, as SPA+CLINIC is not privy to all the information re what is now a legal matter and could go before the courts.

However, the headlines the case and the incidents leading up to it has generated serve as a timely reminder about what women considering this surgery need to know before proceeding.


Getting bigger and/or perkier-looking boobs can be made to sound like a casual walk-in-walk-out affair but, like any surgical procedure, it involves anaesthesia and invasive measures to the body, such as incisions and implants of foreign materials. It is serious surgery with potentially serious consequences.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have been asked for advice over the last 15+ years about recommending a surgeon to perform a breast augmentation/boob job.

This is because, in the course of my work, I have met many wonderful surgeons. But it doesn’t make me qualified to offer medical referrals; I can only report on the industry.

It alarms me more when I am asked, especially by those still in their teens, where to go overseas for a cheap boob job. Um, no.

As in Australia, there are brilliant surgeons everywhere in the world – and some not-so-brilliant surgeons.

How do you know what you’re getting when you factor surgery into a package holiday trip? For instance:

  • What relationship does a patient have a chance to forge with the surgeon ahead of the surgery?
  • How in-depth is the all-important consultation process in terms of patient expectations and goals?
  • What follow-up treatment is offered as part of the package? For instance, are longer term complications factored into the equation (eg. infection, displacement of implants causing wonky cleavage, hardening of breast tissue around the implants, etc)
  • What financial or surgical comeback do you have with the provider(s) of the treatment?

I know from my discussions with many surgeons in Australia that they are wary of becoming involved with treating complications of and/or revising breast surgeries performed overseas, eg:

  • Fears that if complications can’t be resolved/revised, or attempts to do so are not all the patient hopes or wants, it will rebound on the surgeon.
  • It is a drain on the Medicare system, which impacts on all Australians.

Sometimes the issue is close to home. I often hear of people being referred for boob jobs by, say, influencers in the fashion and beauty industries, whether shopfront or in media.

They themselves might have had great work, but this does not make them experts on what is right for another woman in the context of a serious medical procedure.

We’re not talking about buying the perfect shade of foundation here, or the coolest-this-week dress or handbag.

It’s great to get first-hand recommendations as a way of seeing a doctors’ work, but it shouldn’t be “the gospel”.

As much research by a would-be patient to educate themselves as much as possible beforehand is urged. And, of course, not be afraid to expect a thorough consultation with a surgeon preceding surgery or to ask as many questions as they need to.

We suggest would-be patients to seek advice from a respected source such as the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgeons (ACCS, who hosted last week’s Cosmetex conference) about what women need to consider and ask before proceeding with surgery. Click here for What To Ask.