Taxpayers paid for 100 liposuction operations in middle of recession

By Adelina Campos

Wednesday January 18 2012


TAXPAYERS contributed towards nearly 100 liposuction and lipectomy operations in the midst of the recession, the Herald can reveal.

Nearly 900 plastic surgery operations were completed in public medical practices which participate in the HIPE programme (Hospital In-patient Enquiry Scheme), in 2010.

Figures for 2011 are expected to be released in coming weeks.

The HSE insisted that many of these operations were "aimed at correcting disfigurement or restoring function lost as the result of accidents, birth defects or treatment of disease".

However, it also admitted that some plastic surgeries were for cosmetic purposes and may have been paid for by the State to alleviate the "serious psychological stress caused by such a condition, which would be diagnosed by a physiologist/consultant plastic surgeon".

Gang boss Brian Rattigan (30) is one of the many people to have benefited from a State-paid cosmetic procedure.

Notorious killer ‘King Ratt’ had surgery on his lip on the HSE scheme because a scar caused him to suffer from "low self-esteem", according to jail sources.

Medical consultations and the operation are understood to have taken place in April and May 2010, at a cost of thousands of euro.

"Because decisions about treatment are based on clinical need, and also because each individual’s case will be different, consultants refer patients within the public health system for all surgical treatment based on a clinical assessment of need which they will make for the patient," a HSE spokesperson explained.

"Plastic surgery is a specialty within a number of public hospitals where the nature of the work carried out is restorative in nature."

Figures obtained by the Herald show that the most frequent operation was breast reduction surgery (reduction mammoplasty) with 190 cases in 2010.

"Breast reduction surgery may be offered where the patient is suffering from significant postural deformity or back/shoulder/neck pain or loss of sensation," a HSE spokesperson explained.

In comparison, 101 breast augmentations took place that year. It is understood that some of these operations included reconstructive surgery for breast cancer patients.

Another 42 operations consisted of application, insertion or removal procedures on breasts.

A spokesperson for the department explained that the data provided to the Herald did not distinguish between cosmetic and therapeutic procedures, or those paid by patients or entirely paid by the State through the medical card system.