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Standing in a room as a doctor filmed her naked body for TikTok was one of the last things Aylin Senkul says she remembers before she underwent major cosmetic surgery at the clinic of celebrity surgeon Daniel Lanzer.
Senkul, a mother of five from Melbourne’s north, says she was booked in to have six procedures in April 2021 under the care of Lanzer’s associate, Dr Daniel Aronov, then the most followed cosmetic surgeon on TikTok, with 13 million followers.
Aylin Senkul says she has been left racked with shame after her 2021 surgery.Credit: Joe Armao
“[Aronov] kept saying, ‘Well, this is my lovely patient. She’s such and such years old’ … and he’s pointing out what I’m going to get done,” recalled the 56-year-old. “They kept stuffing up the TikTok, so they started over a few times, but I’m just standing there, naked.”
Lanzer, who had previously consulted with Senkul, also spoke to her before the surgery. She tried to tell him about a complication she’d experienced after a previous medical procedure and how she wanted her breasts and bottom to look.
But Senkul said she felt he wasn’t listening. “[Lanzer said:] We’ll see you in surgery and when you wake up you’re going to be beautiful.”
On her list of procedures were eyelid surgery (a blepharoplasty), “360 liposuction” to remove fat from both front and back of the body, liposuction under the chin, a Brazilian butt lift (transfer of fat to the bottom), as well as a breast and nipple reduction.
Senkul’s overriding memory after she woke up from the major surgery was pain.
When she was discharged from the Malvern clinic later that day, she said she was passing in and out of consciousness. Her husband had to carry her to the car, where she was laid out in the back.
“Every time he went on a bump … my eyes would just open up. I was screaming in pain,” she said. But the drive home would be only the start of Senkul’s nightmare.
“This is going to make me cry,” she said, listing the raft of physical and mental side effects she said were caused by the surgery. “So my body didn’t turn out the way they promised, or explained it would.”
Senkul is one of more than 1000 former patients of Lanzer and six of his associates including Aronov who are registered with a class action in the Victorian Supreme Court led by Maddens Lawyers. The key defendants are due to file their defences by the end of next month.
Principal lawyer Kathryn Emeny said many of her clients had reported receiving insufficient pain relief, scarring, deformities, numbness, restricted movement and chronic pain.
In addition to the registrations involving Lanzer’s former clinics, which closed in Sydney and Melbourne after an explosive investigation by this masthead, Maddens are also actively investigating about half a dozen other clinics in Australia that had been the subject of complaints, she said.
Before her surgery, Senkul said she and her husband had carefully researched different cosmetic surgeons and felt reassured by the fact that Lanzer had his own TV show. They were also impressed with the before and after pictures posted to his Instagram account.
Photos of Senkul’s body taken before and after surgery.
But Senkul said her before and after photos were nothing like the ones she saw on social media. “As you can see, there is no difference whatsoever,” she said.
Senkul said she was left with lasting side effects. She said one of her breasts is now “significantly” larger than the other, her stomach is lumpy, she has pink lines on her back and waist, numbness around her bottom and scarring around her eyelids.
New symptoms continue to emerge, she said. “When I lay down at night, my body – around the waist area down – just jolts, like an involuntary jerk. I have a lot of sharp pain around my back and my waist, it feels like a knife is going in … and that happens about four or five times a day,” Senkul said.
“My mental state is really bad… I [feel] deformed. And we don’t have enough money to go back to a doctor and say, please can you fix all this?”
A lawyer for Lanzer, a dermatologist who surrendered his medical registration following the joint investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Four Corners, declined to comment on the case.
Aronov, a general practitioner, is still registered but with conditions, including that he must only practice as a general practitioner and not undertake any cosmetic or surgical procedures. His lawyer did not return calls.
Dr Tim Edwards, president of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said his office continued to hear weekly reports of people who had undergone too much surgery at once at the hands of doctors without specialist surgical training.
“The cosmetic cowboys are still out there operating because at the end of the day, the regulator didn’t do what the regulator should have done, which is to make sure that this major surgery is done by specialist registered surgeons,” Edwards said.
While doctors without suitable qualifications are set to be banned from calling themselves surgeons, those “who have acquired the necessary knowledge and clinical skills to perform cosmetic surgery” will be able to receive an “endorsement in cosmetic surgery”.
“With both of these measures in place, patients will have confidence that all doctors using the title ‘surgeon’ are appropriately qualified,” said a spokesperson for the federal Department of Health and Aged Care.
Edwards said many people who put themselves forward as cosmetic surgeons had only a basic medical degree, in contrast to fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons who spend up to a decade undergoing additional training following medical school.
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