Selecting your Surgeon

What should you look for in a plastic or cosmetic surgeon?

Your choice of surgeon is an important part of your decision to undertake plastic or cosmetic surgery. Before you commit to a surgical procedure or clinic, check some details first.

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Medical training and qualifications

All surgery is serious and carries risk. Make sure you check your surgeon’s qualifications, and whether their training is fully accredited by the Australian Medical Council (AMC). This is the only Government-mandated body in Australia that can accredit specialist surgical training.

Your surgeon should have FRACS after their name. This stands for Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Similar but very different letters may be used, so take care not to be misled.

Unfortunately, doctors with basic medical degrees can call themselves surgeons in most states of Australia. You should choose a doctor with the training to give you your best results, and manage any complications that may occur.

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AMC accredited Plastic Surgeons

Surgeons who display the logo of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) are accredited by the AMC to perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. This means they have undertaken, on average, an additional seven to ten years of AMC accredited training after receiving their basic medical degree.

This is the highest level of training available in plastic and cosmetic surgery. All members of ASPS are entitled to use the letters FRACS after their name.

Members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons adhere to a strict code of ethics, and are required to fulfill continuing education requirements that include maintenance of clinical standards and innovations in patient safety.

Plastic Surgeons are trained in a broad range of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures, and are at the forefront of surgical and non-surgical cosmetic solutions. Reconstructive surgery requires skills and the knowledge of latest innovations and techniques that would be beyond the training of other surgeons.

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What is the legislation regarding cosmetic surgery?

Like all advertising, medical advertising is a ‘buyer beware’ situation for Australian consumers. Current legislation in most states of Australia allows doctors with basic medical degrees to call themselves surgeons. Currently only the Queensland State Government has amended their Medical Practitioners Act (in 2002) so that ‘only fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons have legally been able to call themselves surgeons…’ [Source Australian Doctor 5th July 2005]. The same article states that; ‘Legislation does not prevent a doctor from setting up shop after a weekend course in the Bahamas on liposuction.’

The 1999 NSW Cosmetic Surgery Inquiry was headed by Associate Professor Merrilyn Walton, the founding Commissioner for the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. She reported that ‘the lack of regulation allow(s) any registered medical doctor in NSW to describe himself or herself as a cosmetic surgeon, even with no formal training beyond a basic medical degree.’ [Source:].

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Regulatory Bodies and Organisations

Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) 367 446
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS)www.surgeons.org03 9249 1900

For more information on plastic surgery qualifications

Myths and Truths about Plastic Surgery

The Four Corners Report on the Rules & Regulations of Cosmetic Surgery

Australian Doctor: Cosmetic surgery standards

Sydney Morning Herald: Patients at risk

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