'My cosmetic surgery left me traumatised. Here are the 8 things I want people to know.'

Thanks to our brand partner, AHPRA

Kate is not new to the realm of cosmetic surgery. At 40 years old and a mother of three children, Kate first got a cosmetic procedure when she was in her early 20s.

Over the years, Kate continued to feel self-conscious about her looks. And with those feelings of insecurity came the decision to have various cosmetic surgeries. And one of those was a breast augmentation. 

Unfortunately for Kate, it was a traumatic experience that not only affected her self-esteem, but also her family, marriage and mental health.

"Five years ago I wanted to get my breasts augmented again after having two more children on top of my first child. I thought it would be a simple procedure. I ended up engaging with an Australian cosmetic surgeon, and had the surgery in Australia. I thought by having it done here, by someone calling themselves a surgeon, it would be safer. But it wasn’t. It was a traumatic experience, which has changed my life," Kate shares.

"I've got PTSD from it. It almost ruined my marriage."

It's stories like Kate's that have inspired action.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) has launched a Cosmetic Surgery Hotline (1300 361 041) to make it safer for cosmetic surgery patients to report harm.

What exactly is the Cosmetic Surgery Hotline?

As a government body that regulates Australia's health practitioners, Ahpra wants to reduce the risk of harm and malpractice from cosmetic surgery.

It recently commissioned a review of patient safety in the cosmetic surgery sector, which found that a lot of experiences of harm weren’t being reported, meaning that bad practices were continuing unchecked.


The Cosmetic Surgery Hotline (1300 361 041) was recently launched, to make it easier for people to report their bad experiences.

Reporting means making cosmetic surgery safer for other women, and other people, who might be considering surgery. It’s not about stopping people having surgery, but helping to ensure their experience is safer.

Reporting a personal experience can be done so confidentially, meaning Ahpra won’t pass on any identifying details to the doctor you have made a complaint about.

Importantly, it's good for people to know that even if they've signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), they can still phone Ahpra's hotline and discuss their options. 


It's something Kate is grateful to see happen. And with this in mind, she has eight things she wants people who may be considering cosmetic surgery in the future to know. 

1. Do your research beforehand.

Research is always key, along with using available resources from regulatory bodies.

One thing Kate recommended was using the Ahpra website where you can look up any Australia-based health practitioner and confirm their credentials. Which of course offers peace of mind!

"I really think it's important that you do your research. Don't get your information from social media or influencers getting paid or discounted surgery. Also, be sure that the surgeon has examples of before-and-after photos and progress updates from other clients, so that you can get a good idea of what to expect."

2. A good cosmetic doctor should always make you feel comfortable.

When Kate had her first breast augmentation over a decade ago, it had been a wonderful experience.

After doing her research, Kate came across a great cosmetic surgeon who was kind, answered all her questions and made her feel comfortable. Sadly, Kate did not experience this with her second breast augmentation.  


"For my first augmentation, I wanted somebody that had done this repetitively and knew what they were doing in their day-to-day job. And he was absolutely amazing. He went through everything with me – the good, the bad, everything."

3. Watch out for 'up-selling'. 

When Kate went to see the surgeon in question about her second breast augmentation, it was recommended that she also get a breast lift.

Kate decided to not go for the breast lift, feeling it wasn't necessary for her personally, and a bit of an up-sell of sorts.

But when she woke up from the surgery, Kate realised the surgeons had taken it upon themselves to give her the breast lift, without her consent. And it hadn't been done successfully.

"When I was able to come around a bit and realised that there was something wrong with me, I was so humiliated by the way that I looked," Kate shared. 

4. Cosmetic surgery trauma and complications don't just affect you – it impacts your loved ones too.

"My children have secondary PTSD. I didn't want to go anywhere, I didn't want to see anybody," Kate explains.

"Everyone expects to see you and see these results, so I was always making excuses. I didn't want to look at my breasts myself because I was ashamed of them. I was so nervous to even have to take off my top – there's so many emotions."

5. A good cosmetic doctor should always listen to you. 

Just like any interaction with a health professional or medical expert, the patient should always feel comfortable and listened to. 

And this is something Kate knows first-hand.


"The surgeon was saying to me to wait 12 months [for the complications to fix itself], but I knew from the day that I woke up from that operation that something wasn't right. I told the surgeon and it just fell on deaf ears. I trusted the process as much as my intuition kept telling me 'maybe there's something really wrong'."

As Kate explained: "I think the biggest problem we have as consumers and/or patients is we're intimidated. We shouldn't be intimidated. We're employing these people to do a job."

6. Cosmetic procedures are expensive – so are revisions if something happens to go wrong.

When Kate realised her second augmentation had been done poorly, she was desperate to have it fixed. 

But only after the fact did she uncover that there was a cost associated with a revision surgery. And it was a cost she couldn't afford. 

"I didn't want to look like that, and I had no funds. We all go into surgery thinking we're going to come out with a successful outcome, but we don't think about revision. A surgeon should be upfront and discuss their revision rates."

7. Transparency is key.

When Kate spoke to her surgeon about her discomfort and unhappiness with how the procedure had gone, she felt ignored. Even gaslighted, in a way.

"Open communication is paramount. Both patient and doctor should have transparency, with the doctor advising them realistically what they're going to be able to achieve, and the patient being happy with that or not," Kate said. 

"I think money grabbing is huge in the industry, and some surgeons are saying that they can do an operation when it's beyond their capacity."


8. Weigh up the reasons motivating your cosmetic surgery decision.

We have the freedom to do what we want with our bodies, which is crucial. But for Kate, she has reflected on the foundational reasons why she got her cosmetic procedures in the first place, and a lot of them she points out come down to insecurity. 

"Unfortunately, both women and men we have these body image problems, and I guess social media sensationalises things to be better than what they are. We have unrealistic expectations on how we need to look in society," Kate said.

She now wishes she had viewed her cosmetic surgery decisions as 'wants' rather than a 'necessity' – because putting pressure on yourself to look a certain way isn't a nice feeling.

It is now Ahpra's goal to hear from more people like Kate: for them to feel comfortable to share their stories and know that work is being done to make the sector safer.

As Kate said: "I hope that my negative experience is able to make other people not have to go through the ordeal that I did."

You can now report your bad experiences to the Cosmetic Surgery Hotline on 1300 361 041. If Ahpra knows about your concerns, they can investigate them. 

In an emergency, always seek treatment at a hospital emergency department.

Names have been changed for privacy reasons. 

Feature Image: Getty.

Had a bad cosmetic surgery experience? A new Cosmetic Surgery Hotline has been set up to help women share their experiences. If it is reported, it can be investigated. Help make cosmetic surgery safer for everyone by reporting bad outcomes or behaviour. Call 1300 361 041.