|As Australians queue for breast enhancements, tummy tucks, nose jobs and liposuctions, Jonathan Holmes asks if safety lags behind profits in the booming and sparsely regulated business of cosmetic surgery.
From marginal to mainstream, once furtive but now flaunted, cosmetic surgery is being eagerly explored by Australians from teens to pensioners, female and male.
Across the country tens of thousands of cosmetic procedures - from basic Botox jabs to complex surgery - are performed in day theatres and doctor's rooms each year.
"A lot of people like to renovate their house and decorate. I like to renovate me," attests Joan Wilkinson, one of the growing army of enhancement enthusiasts.
Riding this craze is a new breed of entrepreneurial doctor, buoyed by TV's rash of makeover shows, easier rules for medical advertising and alluring websites.
Exactly how many procedures are being done is anyone's guess. As Four Corners reports, authorities have little idea about what operations are being performed, where, when, how well or how badly and by whom. And there is a dearth of information about the long-term health effects of some procedures like liposuction.
In most states it is legal for an ordinary GP to call him or herself a cosmetic surgeon and start wielding the scalpel on patients, or consumers. Many do.
Increasingly, complex and invasive operations are being done away from hospital in doctors' private rooms, which are unregulated and exempt from the usual rules for reporting mishaps. This Four Corners investigation reveals there is also a big financial incentive to patients to have their procedures done in unaccredited rooms.
Most people do like their new look. But when a job gets botched it can be disastrous. Cosmetic surgery generates more insurance claims than most medical fields and its premiums are second highest after obstetrics.
"It's the frontier - too many cowboys out there, and cowgirls," says Merrilyn Walton who headed a NSW government inquiry into cosmetic surgery.
In the absence of regulation, doctors are left to regulate themselves - and to slug it out between themselves in a vicious turf war. It's plastic surgeons versus cosmetic surgeons, scalpels drawn. The plastic surgeons deride cosmetic surgeons as lacking qualifications and breadth of surgical experience. Cosmetics accuse plastics of self-interested protectionism. Now each side is demanding official action against the other.
At stake for the warring doctors are golden reputations and a slice of the fortune Australians now spend in their quest for beauty. For the patients, making their decisions in a void of impartial information, life and limb may be on the line.
As he follows patients through surgery and takes cameras into operating rooms, reporter Jonathan Holmes asks how safe are the consumers in this largely unchecked industry, and how qualified are the doctors whose services they buy.