Thursday, March 27, 2008

Aesthetic Medicine and Snake-oil-My unabridged letter to the Straits Times

Hi Friends,
The below is the complete letter sent to the ST Forum page.

The editor chose to print only this sentence:
"As not all aesthetic treatment is “snake-oil” we should not throw the baby out with the bath-water by banning aesthetic medicine. "

That's his prerogative.
Mine is to publish it on this blog.

Now I know why Jeff Ooi and the gang up north had become cult figures! Maybe I can be famous too.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: I remember I posted something about PAP and Economic Imperative.

The choice for them was $200 mil/year or a matter of principle. You guess which they picked?

My letter to the ST Forum page

Dear editor,

I like to make some comments about the “aesthetic medicine” issue and the apparent U-turn by MOH.

Public trust doctors- we should not abuse that trust

Despite protests from certain quarters of the medical community, I feel that it is right that doctors should be judged by higher standards than laymen. To say that if beauticians and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners are allowed to carry out unproven treatment, doctors should be too is to ignore the good reputation that doctors in Singapore had taken decades to earn.

I do not agree that dubious treatments without any shreds of evidence should be allowed.As members of an honourable and ancient profession, patients inherently trust that any treatment recommended by us is not snake-oil. They assume the treatment is good for them and that it is evidence-based. They do not hold beauticians to such lofty standards.

This higher standard applies to all professions. Hence when a doctor, lawyer or accountant has “fraud” convictions, he will be deemed unfit to practice and be struck off the membership rolls.

Place of Aesthetic Medicine in Singapore healthcare

Recent action by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to ban unproven treatment ( and subsequent U-turn) has brought sharp focus on the place of Aesthetic Medicine in Singapore Healthcare.
Even amongst doctors, the views vary widely with one end of the spectrum feeling that treating normal face and skin is not “medicine” and should be best left to beauty salons. The other extreme is that the supply and demand for “beauty” in the marketplace should be left to play itself out without restraint and that economics would always find its own equilibrium. Willing buyer willing seller scenario.

My view is that Aesthetics is here to stay and will not be wished away. As not all aesthetic treatment is “snake-oil” we should not throw the baby out with the bath-water by banning aesthetic medicine.

Working towards win-win

The medical community, led by the Singapore Medical Council and the MOH, has to decide what treatment is proven and safe. It has then to decide who is competent to perform these. There would necessarily be several tiers where simple procedures such as Botox can be safely administered by trained GP’s and higher tier surgeries such as Liposuction, should be the preserve of doctors who had extensive training and who understand advanced anatomy and surgical pathology as these are potentially lethal in the wrong hands.

The authorities must provide ample opportunities for interested doctors to undergo structured instructions and the necessary certifications. Doctors should not need to learn Botox over a weekend in Bali.

Plastic surgeons should volunteer to impart their skills to fellow doctors who have passions for this field. This would help dispel notions that this is a “turf war” being played out. Although competition has lowered prices of procedures like Botox, the enlarged pie also benefit all doctors, even specialists. It is a win-win scenario.

Best of all, Singapore Medicine gets to keep its good reputation intact,

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan


CW said...

Wah, your letter so long & they only published that 1 sentence!

nofearSingapore said...

Never mind lah!
No fish prawn also good!


aliendoc said...

Well, it IS the Straits Times after all!
Well said, Dr Huang!

Anonymous said...

As usual, you are being long-winded and do not say much of substance, no wonder ST gives you the cut. The editors, I am sure, are very professional.

Onlooker said...

I see Monopoly(start of)