South Africans are putting their bodies at risk when, in their quest to look younger, they turn to inadequately trained general practitioners for breast lifts and liposuction.
An apparent increase in botched cosmetic surgery has led the Health Professions Council of SA and professional bodies to work on tightening regulation.
It warned consumers to check the credentials of anyone offering a quick fix for a flabby bum or wrinkle-ravaged forehead.
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The council said the law allowed "suitably trained" family doctors to perform surgery in "certain circumstances" in the lucrative field, but these terms were not well defined.
Its ethical rules would be revised to clarify when they may do surgery, what level of training they should have and which organisations would provide training, said Dr Buyiswa Mjamba-Matshoba, the council’s registrar and CEO.
"It’s a massive problem," said Chris Snijman, secretary of the Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons of SA. General practitioners should not be allowed to do invasive cosmetic procedures, he said.
Plastic surgeons studied for four years, he said, but warned consumers to scrutinise the qualifications of all doctors.
Aesthetic and Anti-ageing Medicine Society of SA president Riekie Smit confirmed the "growing problem" of cosmetic surgery by general practitioners. "(It) is terrible to think that they will take this risk on the one and only body or face that they have."
Dr Anushka Reddy, president of the South African Association of Cosmetic Doctors, said consumers also needed to be wary of beauticians offering Botox injections.