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Doc horror Cosmetic surgeon Patrick Treacy tells how his wealthy clients were driven to suicide by economic crash

"The biggest problem, and I hate saying this, they were all our patients who had the most money and that's why they committed suicide"

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Dr Patrick Treacy was awarded the Top Aesthetic Practitioner in the World 2019.

Eugene Masterson feature, June 2021

Dr Patrick Treacy was awarded the Top Aesthetic Practitioner in the World 2019. Eugene Masterson feature, June 2021

Dr Patrick Treacy was awarded the Top Aesthetic Practitioner in the World 2019. Eugene Masterson feature, June 2021

CELEBRITY cosmetic surgeon Patrick Treacy has spoken of his horror at losing five of his patients to suicide when they lost millions during the Celtic Tiger crash.

Dublin-based Dr Treacy, who was Michael Jackson's doctor while he was living in Ireland 15 years ago, was himself a victim of the recession and had to make several staff members redundant as well as move office to save costs.

The patients who died had been getting Botox and lip fillers at his Ailesbury Clinic in Ballsbridge.

"The biggest problem, and I hate saying this, they were all our patients who had the most money and that's why they committed suicide," he reveals to the Sunday World.

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Dr Patrick Treacy with Bono

Dr Patrick Treacy with Bono

Dr Patrick Treacy with Bono

"There was an inverse relationship because they were all people who took their own lives because of financial loss. So in one way they were our top paying customers as well."

Dr Treacy attended all of the funerals.

"There were four men and one woman," he recalls. "Listening to some of the stories at the funerals was awful. I don't want to go into it too much for privacy reasons. A lot of them had horrible deaths."

He then drops the bombshell amounts his tragic patients lost in the recession.

"The lowest one lost four million and the top one lost €140 million," he discloses.

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Dr Patrick Treacy was awarded the Top Aesthetic Practitioner in the World 2019.

Dr Patrick Treacy was awarded the Top Aesthetic Practitioner in the World 2019.

Dr Patrick Treacy was awarded the Top Aesthetic Practitioner in the World 2019.

Dr Treacy, who originally hails from Garrison, Co Fermanagh, was himself affected by the recession which started in 2008 and had to close down his Cork clinic and a couple of others, as well as move the location of his Dublin base to lower costs.

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"I had to start from scratch almost again but it's now better than ever," beams the doctor, who also does hair transplants and treats patients with Botox for migraine as well as cosmetic procedures.

"To be fair there was a lot of years of dragging it back."

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Dr Patrick Treacy with Jay Z

Dr Patrick Treacy with Jay Z

Dr Patrick Treacy with Jay Z

Dr Treacy does not think the current Covid crisis will be as bad as the Celtic Tiger bust as back then the economic problems were related to property.

"I bought my apartment in 1993 for IR£90,000," he explains about his pad in the Sweepstakes in Ballsbridge. "It went up to €1.3 million when I was in Australia in 1996/1997. During the crash it went to €350,000 and it's back up to about €550,000 so I don't think those heady days will be with us again."

His apartment building was flooded just after the crash and his dream Aston Martin car, along with dozens of vehicles owned by other residents, was destroyed.

When Dr Treacy got the insurance payout for his car he used it towards redundancy payments for his staff in his Cork office. That office on Leeside is now back up and running again.

Dr Treacy has been voted the top aesthetic surgeon in the world and was trained in Queens University in Belfast and then the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.

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Johnny Depp with Dr Treacy

Johnny Depp with Dr Treacy

Johnny Depp with Dr Treacy

He has just released his new book The Needle and the Damage Done, which details his extraordinary life, including working as a doctor in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Iraq, Scotland, Gibraltar, Liberia and as a ship's surgeon in California.

While still a student he spent time in France and Germany painting buildings before getting caught up in a car smuggling ring in Turkey, where he had to flee the country in case he was arrested.

Dr Treacy had a baptism of fire in his first posting in James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown, Dublin in the mid-1980s when he had a terrifying moment which could have claimed his life.

"I had a 17-year-old heroin addict and I didn't know he was a heroin addict," he recollects. "He was having an asthma attack and turning blue. So I had taken blood off him and I knew I had to get blood from his artery and rolled him over to get one out of his hand.

"He thought I was looking for an opening. He had one that he used for mainlining, he turned around on the bed to show me where it was and knocked off the syringe and the needle stuck into my leg. Then he turned around and said 'Doctor, I'm HIV positive'. It wasn't on the chart."

He looked at the nurse next to him and shouted "Christ almighty!"

"I knew I had to be fast," he continues. "I dashed to the theatre and a friend of mine was there, a surgeon. I said 'you treat this as a melanoma and cut it out'. At that stage word had come out that I had been stabbed with a HIV needle and management were up in arms with me.

"I was lucky. If you remember the HIV situation time at the time and all the ads, it appeared anyone who got it was going to die. I was in shock. HIV was an awful lot worse then than Covid."

While working in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule Dr Treacy decided to go on a madcap trip to part of Kurdistan, an area the tyrant had just gassed.

The doctor took pictures of the damaged area and also spoke to locals who told him of how the poison had killed thousands. He had already been warned that it was illegal to visit the area.

"When you grow up in Northern Ireland, you get hardened to that type of stuff," he points out. "I was in three pub bombs before I left to go to the Royal College of Surgeons.

"In one of them, the guy behind me got his arm blown off. It's almost like you're not going there with a sense of innocence."

While on the way back from Kurdistan an army patrol surrounded Dr Treacy's car, which was driven by a taxi driver he had hired. He managed to put the roll of film from his camera on to a passing truck and only for that he might not be alive to tell the tale today, as the Iraqis back then hanged foreigners for spying.

Dr Treacy was taken to a cell and could hear the screams of other prisoners being tortured.

"The main guy [interrogator] came down one morning and put a gun beside me and said 'you think we are all barbarians'. I said 'no'. He said 'I know James Joyce and I know Trinity College'. He roughed me up a wee bit, put my arm behind my back and threw me out the door. Then I had to walk the walk of shame."

Dr Treacy has many celebrity clients, including famous singers and numerous RTE stars. The most famous person he treated, Michael Jackson, became his friend from the first moment he walked into his clinic.

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Michael Jackson was a patient

Michael Jackson was a patient

Michael Jackson was a patient

"He had shown me his wig and that his scalp was wounded," he recalls of their first meeting.

"So in that context you are cutting to the chase in a different way and your doctoring mode comes in and you are sort of feeling sorry for your patient.

"I had never seen that before. The wounds from the burns [from Jackson's Pepsi advert accident] had stretched his skin. He was going to get a hair transplant. He also had vitiligo. I felt sorry for him. After a period of time he talked about his history. He talked about his oxygen chamber. He did become a friend."

Anyone affected by this article can contact the Samaritans on 116123 or email jo@samaritans.ie.

The Needle And The Damage Done is out now, priced €29.95/£25.99.

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