NSW cosmetic surgeon deregistered after falling asleep during liposuction procedure

By medical reporter Sophie Scott and the national reporting team’s Rebecca Armitage

A cosmetic surgeon who admitted to taking a sedative and falling asleep while performing liposuction on a patient has had his medical registration cancelled by New South Wales health authorities.

The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) found Dr Tony Tan guilty of professional misconduct for his actions at his clinic in Fairfield, in Sydney’s west.

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard that in July 2014, Dr Tan was performing liposuction on a patient’s neck when he gave himself the powerful drug Propofol.

He fell asleep for an hour, and when he awoke, he completed the operation.

Dr Tan told the HCCC it was the only time he took drugs while performing a procedure on a patient.

The Tribunal heard that several days after the incident, his brother-in-law found him unconscious at the clinic and he was rushed to Liverpool Hospital for treatment.

Hospital officials reported his Propofol use to medical authorities, and Dr Tan closed down his clinic and entered rehab for drug and alcohol addiction.

An HCCC investigation also found Dr Tan had written prescriptions for the painkiller Pethidine for two patients, but kept the drugs for himself.

Dr Tan was also reprimanded for performing a nose job on a 29-year-old woman, which the HCCC described as “significantly below the standard expected”.

The woman had asked Dr Tan for a minor change to the tip of her nose in February 2014, but complained to the HCCC that the operation dramatically changed her appearance, and made breathing and sleeping difficult.


He paid an unnamed physician to travel from Malaysia to perform a second surgery on the patient a month later.

However, the woman told the HCCC she was under the impression that the Malaysian doctor was only there to assist, and Dr Tan would perform the operation himself.

Tribunal not convinced Dr Tan understands his obligations

Dr Tan told the Tribunal he is being treated for a mental health condition as well as drug dependence, but said he was ready to resume his practice.

His lawyers told the Tribunal his drug problem is under control, and he has embraced prayer to “address his vulnerabilities”.

However, the Tribunal ruled that they “have little confidence at this stage that the respondent has a mature, and well-developed understanding of his ethical and professional obligations”.

Dr Tan can apply to have his medical registration reviewed in 12 months.

In June, the NSW Government announced a crackdown on the state’s cosmetic surgery industry.

From next year, procedures such as breast implants, tummy tucks and liposuction will need to be carried out in facilities that have the same licensing standards as private hospitals.

The Medical Board also implemented tougher national guidelines for doctors who perform cosmetic surgery.

The industry overhaul includes mandatory cooling off periods for patients who choose to go under the knife and stricter guidelines for providers.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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