Botched South African Plastic Surgery

By: Botox Patient - In: Cosmetic Surgery|Plastic Surgeon|Plastic Surgery

3 Dec 2009

A general practitioner who performed a botched breast reduction that left a woman disfigured learnt how to do cosmetic surgery by reading text- books, attending meetings and assisting other surgeons.

Dr Christiaan Botha, who is not qualified to perform plastic and reconstructive surgery, yesterday admitted that he started performing cosmetic surgery after 10 years of “self-study” and assisting qualified surgeons.

He faced charges of unprofessional conduct before the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) relating to a breast reduction procedure performed on a patient in July 2007.

He pleaded guilty yesterday.

In July 2007 Zelna Venter went to Botha to have a breast reduction because her breasts were causing neck and back pain.But the operation left her scarred – one of her nipples fell off and both areolas had to be removed – after an infection set in and the wound began to smell soon after the procedure.

Follow-up visits to Botha saw Venter being put on two courses of antibiotics and having the wound restitched several time before a second opinion was sought, and Venter was sent for an emergency operation.

It was during this operation that Venter’s areolas and a chunk of skin were finally removed.

Venter’s husband last night barred her from speaking to the media and said they had gone through great trauma in the past two years.

The HPCSA accused Botha of practising outside his scope and failing to recognise complications that arose from the surgery, and of failing to refer Venter to a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

The council also accused him of treating Venter’s complications in a negligent or incompetent manner.

HPCSA spokeswoman Bertha Peters-Scheepers confirmed they were still investigating other complaints against Botha.

In his plea explanation, Botha said he had trained himself to become a cosmetic surgeon and that when he started performing the surgery, the understanding in the medical fraternity at the time was that GPs like him could do the procedure “with adequate training and experience”.

“Following my entry into private practice I developed an interest in cosmetic surgery. In consequence I acquired and studied textbooks on the subject and commenced assisting plastic and reconstructive surgeons in the performance of cosmetic surgery.

“After about 10 years of self-study, I commenced performing cosmetic surgery, limited however to breast augmentation surgery, breast reduction and abdominoplasty.”

Botha said that as a registered GP he believed he was permitted to perform the procedures.

“Neither I nor other members of the general medical fraternity believed it necessary, on the strength of the ethical rules, that a formal postgraduate qualification in plastic and reconstructive surgery was required.”

Cliff Nkuna, legal adviser for the HPCSA, argued that Botha did not manage Venter’s complications properly due to inadequate training and that he had put her life at risk.

But Botha’s lawyer, Steven Farrell, disagreed.

“There are no facts that Dr Botha put the patient’s life at risk. You do not have before you a medical practitioner who just takes a scalpel and starts a procedure. He developed an interest in the field.”

Farrell said that when Botha became aware of the HPCSA ruling that GPs were barred from performing plastic and reconstructive surgery, and that only specialist plastic and reconstructive surgeons could, he wound down his cosmetic surgery activities.

Botha stopped performing cosmetic surgery two months ago.

However, Peters-Scheepers said the HPCSA ruling was made in April last year, and they had sent a newsletter to all the doctors.

The matter has been postponed to May 4 for sentencing. Botha could be struck off the roll and could also be slapped with a fine.

Via: The Star

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