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The Toronto woman who died after undergoing a routine liposuction procedure last week was young and in good health, her employer said yesterday.

Tom Bosley, president of Bosley Real Estate, the Toronto real-estate company where Krista Stryland worked, said he couldn't even understand why she had the procedure in the first place.

"It's a tragedy and should never have occurred," said Mr. Bosley. "Basically she went to a clinic she shouldn't have been at ... I don't understand why she even was doing it, to be honest with you. She was young, vibrant, very healthy, absolutely nothing wrong with her."

A successful realtor in Toronto's leafy Davisville neighbourhood and a mother in her 30s, Ms. Stryland's heart stopped soon after having liposuction in her abdomen at the Toronto Cosmetic Clinic on Thursday. She went into cardiac arrest while still at the clinic and later died at North York General Hospital.

The coroner's office is investigating the death.

The doctor who performed the operation is a general practitioner who specializes in liposuction and is not a licensed plastic surgeon, according to reports.

Many plastic surgeons say that Ms. Stryland's death has highlighted a major problem in the Canadian medical world: While plastic surgeons must undergo licensing and adhere to strict regulations, there's little to stop general practitioners from calling themselves cosmetic surgeons and performing such procedures, even though they don't have the training that plastic surgeons do.

Sean Rice, a plastic surgeon at North York General, was on duty Thursday and was called down to help revive Ms. Stryland. "I think the big question people need to ask is who is the physician performing the procedure. The push now is that everyone is calling themselves a cosmetic surgeon," said Dr. Rice. "And there's no regulation at this point in time to [stop physicians from]calling themselves 'cosmetic surgeon' and not even be a surgeon."

No one at the Toronto Cosmetic Clinic was available to comment yesterday; a receptionist said she wasn't able to relay any messages. According to the clinic's website, Behnaz Yazdanfar is the resident liposuction specialist. Dr. Yazdanfar is listed on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario website as a general practitioner with no specialty.

She was not available for comment yesterday.

"The only way that the public can educate themselves would be to phone the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons and ask them whether [a doctor]is a real plastic surgeon, or call the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and look up that person's name and their qualifications. Because right now, you can call yourself anything you want," Dr. Rice said.

The CPSO has been debating new regulations to govern MDs who branch out into lucrative, uninsured practices such as cosmetic surgery. Procedures like liposuction can earn doctors thousands of dollars. At the Toronto Cosmetic Clinic, the cost of liposuction starts at $2,500, according to its website.

In November of 2000, the CPSO drafted a policy effective October of 2002 stating that physicians changing the scope of their practice must "obtain an appropriate assessment of their knowledge, judgment and skills in the new area of practice, and possibly, appropriate education or training if the assessment results so indicate."

The policy statement even used the hypothetical example of "a family physician who wishes to perform cosmetic surgical procedures."

The CPSO has since announced "its intent to require physicians to report a change in their scope of practice," according to the most recent issue of Dialogue, a CPSO publication.

"College policies rely on physicians to come forward of their own volition if they wish to change their scope of practice or re-enter practice," reported the July 2007 issue of the publication. "The consequence of voluntary self-reporting is that some physicians do report and undergo the training, supervision and assessment required by the policies, while others do not. The policies are intended to ensure that a physician has the skills, training and experience necessary to practise in the area in which the physician chooses to practise."

In the last four years there has been a 150 per cent jump in the number of Ontario doctors who say they are performing cosmetic surgeries, according to a recent report by the CBC.

"It is one of those incredibly unfortunate events for everyone involved," Dr. Rice said. "It's a very rare occurrence following any cosmetic procedure - or any procedure, period. Following liposuction, there have been some [occurrences]in the past. But with new changes in guidelines and new equipment, the chances are very, very minimal.

"What the actual cause was will have to come out of the coroner's inquest."

Ms. Stryland's boss said her death was completely unnecessary.

"Being a family company, we feel like we lost a member of our family," Mr. Bosley said. "Our agents are just devastated. It should never have happened."

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