Dr. Daniel Aronov, of Australia, is considered the most famous cosmetic surgeon on TikTok with over 13 million followers. He’s known for posting graphic videos of his procedures as well as informative videos on the latest trends in cosmetic surgery.
But all that content has put his career in jeopardy. Australia’s national health regulator has just banned Aronov from performing cosmetic surgery while ordering him to delete sensitive posts from his social media account.
Aronov is a senior associate at Dr. Daniel Lanzer’s clinics for cosmetic procedures, one of the most popular networks for cosmetic surgery in the country. Lanzer oversees day hospitals in Melbourne and Brisbane as well as facilities in Sydney and Perth.
Earlier this year, the network became marred in scandal after several patients came forward and said the clinic “ruined” their lives.
Lanzer, who is a dermatologist, has become the public face of cosmetic surgery in Australia, having appeared on several TV shows and on social media.
Donna Patterson went to Lanzer’s clinic for help with her congenital back pain. She had heard of Lanzer’s ground-breaking breast liposuction procedure on the news, which was supposed to reduce recovery time compared with more traditional invasive surgery.
“I thought, ‘Oh, wow. It’s promising a three-day turnaround, back to work in three days,’” she said.
The procedure left her with chronic pain for two years. She ultimately decided to undergo corrective surgery.
“He ruined a very long time in my life. He caused me extreme pain,” she added.
Patterson sued Lanzer in 2002 in federal court, which ruled that Lanzer had either neglected Patterson or that he had violated his contract and was forced to pay damages. She sent her complaint to the official medical board, but it was ignored.
“After the court hearing, this dispute went to the medical practitioner board of Australia and they ruled in my favor and they told me that they had informed Donna of the results,” Lanzer said. “I’m happy to advise that my method now is an accepted surgical option for breast reduction all around the world.”
However, Patterson is worried that Lanzer could harm others with his reckless procedures.
But Lanzer defended his track record. “In my 30-year career, I’ve never had a single ruling or recommendation against me regarding my method of surgery or my patient care by any regulator,” he said.
Another woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, visited the clinic for a tummy tuck. She says Lanzer filmed the entire procedure and posted it on Instagram. She said she agreed to be filmed but was shocked to see the footage on social media after recognizing one of her tattoos.
But that was just the beginning of her problems. She was horrified to see the results when she took off the bandages.
“My belly button shrunk down to the size of a baby’s belly button, and it was off to the side. And Dr Lanzer tried to tell me that my belly button must have been off to the side prior to him putting my belly button there,” she said. “I had to then have labiaplasty because he had pulled the bottom of my stomach up so hard and tight that it was then uncomfortable for me in my labia area.”
She was later rushed to St. Vincent hospital for additional care. Professor and plastic surgeon Mark Ashton said the woman was lucky to be alive after seeing the results of the botched procedure.
Regulating Cosmetic Surgery
Unlike the U.S., cosmetic surgery is not recognized as a legitimate specialty in Australia. That means any qualified doctor can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon.
Dr. Margaret Faux is a nurse-turned-lawyer that’s been studying these regulatory issues for years. “I would describe the cosmetic treatments industry as like the Wild West but without the sheriffs,” she said. “Basically, the government has no eyes on what happens in the cosmetic sector. This entire regulatory framework needs a complete overhaul, it’s basically lawless. It’s like any other consumer market, it’s buyer beware, except that people’s lives can be put at risk.”
Lanzer’s clinics are still under investigation. In the meantime, he has been ordered to stop practicing medicine in the country.
Now Aronov is facing similar accusations. Amid the investigation into the Lanzer clinics, the Australian Health Practitioner Agency (AHPRA) has ordered Aronov to stop performing cosmetic surgery. However, he can work as a general practitioner if supervised by an AHPRA-approved supervisor.
“The practitioner must consult and follow the directions of the supervisor about the management of each patient before care is delivered and must be directly observed by the supervisor who is physically present at the site of practice at all times,” regulators said.
They also ordered Aronov to delete videos of procedures and patients from social media.
So far, 100 former patients have come forward with similar accusations against Aronov and the Lanzer clinics.
As for the woman who wishes to remain anonymous, she says Aronov would often stop in the middle of the procedure to check the video. “He’s in the middle of surgery and he is stopping, checking the video, then saying, ‘No I don’t want that, cut that out, do it again.'”
Aronov maintains he is committed to his patients.
“While all patients are warned of the risks of significant complications multiple times, this does not detract from the distress experienced by this patient and her family,” he said.
“As soon as I was made aware of the patient’s deterioration, without hesitation, I recommended an ambulance be called immediately, and then personally attended to assess the situation and assist the paramedics. I have been liaising with her treating team throughout her recovery.”