Body modifications are largely unregulated in NSW, according to the Health Minister. (Flickr: IZATRINI.com
People undergoing procedures like split tongues and skin implants have “pretty major issues going on in their head”, the New South Wales Health Minister says.
Brad Hazzard pledged to crack down on the body modification industry in New South Wales, which he described as unregulated and dangerous.
The plans to tighten the laws come after a woman died while undergoing a breast enhancement procedure at a Sydney cosmetic clinic earlier this year.
Another woman’s genitals were allegedly mutilated during a procedure on the NSW central coast in 2016.
“People who have these things done to themselves really have some pretty major issues going on in their head,” he said.
“I’ve asked the Ministry for Health to look at what we can do to make it safer for people who are perhaps going through a bad time in their life and thinking these things are OK to do.
“It’s not just the issue of infection or nerve damage. You can actually die when you have items inserted into various parts of your body.”
Some underground places ‘very shady’
Quinton Laws, from Campbelltown, has already had body modification, including an arm-burn “scarification” and is keen to have under-skin implants in the shape of a skull.
He disputed the Minister’s claim that body modifiers had “major issues” but agreed that more regulation could be a good thing.
“It would be a lot easier and safer if you could just go down to your local plastic surgeon and ask for one of these sorts of implants and get it done professionally and legally rather than have to go to one of these back street underground places,” he said.
“If you’re a woman and you want to get breast implants that’s completely legal but if you just want a skull implant underneath your hand, that is illegal. I don’t see the point.”
Mr Laws has not had his implant yet.
“I am finding it a little bit difficult to find places that do it because it is not yet recognised as a legal procedure, so they are normally underground places that you have to go to. Some of them are very shady,” he said.
Mr Hazard said written agreements, better record-keeping and management of subsequent health complications would be part of the crackdown.
“Personally I think there’s more to be done than that,” he said.
“Having some of these people complete these procedures on you — really they have no surgical skills whatsoever or training — is, I think, criminal.”