CELEBRITY plastic surgeon Dr Michael Zacharia, who prescribed human growth hormones to combat ageing, has been found guilty of professional misconduct by the NSW Medical Tribunal.
But the 47-year-old medic – fined $15,000 for illegally prescribing steroids, growth hormones and testosterone — defended his controversial treatment and said he had become a scapegoat for a practice used by doctors worldwide.
“I have had this issue placed against me but really there are lots of other doctors who are performing exactly what I was doing – thousands of other doctors both here and over in America – and it is something that for some reason I have been singled out.”
As well as being found guilty for illegally treating 17 patients, he was busted by the tribunal for self-administering the drugs.
Dr Zacharia, a regular on the television series Extreme Makeover, boasted that “natural-looking beauty” was sometimes achieved with a combination of “surgical and non-surgical procedures”.
The former president of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery and fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons was prosecuted in the Medical Tribunal after an investigation by the Health Care Complaints Commission found his cure for wrinkes was “grossly improper” and inappropriate.”
Patients had told Dr Zacharia they wanted weight loss or anti-ageing treatments. The commission argued that in some cases, patients obtained the drugs to improve their fitness for bodybuilding. In one case, Dr Zacharia charged a patient $800 to deliver human growth hormones to a Port Douglas resort after a telephone consultation.
The commission argued growth hormones and steroids were not a proven anti-ageing treatment and such drugs could harm patients. It also found the doctor failed to keep adequate notes on patients or their test results.
Tribunal documents show he had also self-prescribed testosterone. He said he would consult a GP if he required more.
Dr Zacharia practices as an ear, nose and throat surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon inÂ Bondi Junction.
He serves on the medical advisory committee of Bondi Junction Private Hospital and is linked to the Esteem Cosmetic Studio. He is a regular contributor to Cleo and Woman’s Day.
In a statement to the tribunal, Dr Zacharia said he developed an interest in anti-ageing medicine while in the US in 1997. He believed human growth hormones could significantly reduce ageing.
He was banned from prescribing human growth hormones and most anabolic steroids but can continue to practise.
He must not advertise his anti-ageing medicine and must confine his practice to ear, nose and throat surgery and cosmetic procedures.