Many patients do not know that in Australia any doctor may perform surgery without being trained in surgery and not holding specialist recognition as a surgeon. This means someone not trained in Plastic Surgery could be performing your surgery.

The truth

Not all cosmetic surgeons are Plastic surgeons or even surgeons at all for that matter. Believe it or not, there are medical practitioners in Australia including GP’s, dermatologists and general surgeons who are calling themselves cosmetic surgeons, and some, even Plastic surgeons. Not only is this dishonest, it’s potentially life threatening to the patient.The number of doctors who are performing surgical procedures that should only be done by properly trained Plastic surgeons is astounding. It’s so important for patients to check the credentials of their surgeon before going ahead with any type of cosmetic procedure

Choosing your surgeon

You need to ask specifically if your “surgeon” is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons (“F.R.A.C.S”). This is the only legally recognised accreditation for Australian surgeons. Other groups, such as the “Australian College of Cosmetic Surgeons” try to appear as though they are a valid specialist group. They are not, and do not have recognition as a specialist group by the Australian Medical Council. There is, in fact, no such thing as a “cosmetic surgeon”. Most doctors using this title are not specialist surgeons and have not undergone specialist surgical training.

What you should look for

Check your “surgeon’s” qualifications; In 1999, the NSW Cosmetic Surgery Report, Australia’s only official inquiry into the cosmetic surgery industry, questioned the definition of the term ‘surgeon’ and established the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) as the benchmark standard for surgical certification. Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons can be verified at the R.A.C.S website

Next, you should confirm your surgeon has undertaken formal training in Plastic Surgery, which is a 5 year training program and is highly selective to ensure only the best candidates are accepted into this training program. This training program is hands-on training, under direct supervision of senior surgeons, and despite what other groups erroneously claim, includes training in cosmetic plastic surgery procedures, as well as major reconstructive surgery covering the entire body.

Most plastic surgeons in Australia are members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. Membership of this organisation can be confirmed on their website. If your surgeon is not a member, you should ask why not.

Finally, you should confirm your plastic surgeon is experienced in your particular procedure. They should be able to show you a wide range of photos of their own work, with patients similar to you.

Why you should care

The level of Plastic surgery training in Australia is world class. By choosing an Australian qualified Plastic Surgeon, you can be assured that the doctor has graduated from an accredited medical school and has completed at least five years of additional training in plastic surgery in a program accredited by the Australian Medical Council and the Royal Australian College of Surgeons.