Cosmetic and plastic surgery has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately.
Cosmetic and plastic surgery is a growing industry in Australia. However, with the increase in demand for cosmetic procedures, there has also been a rise in the number of unqualified and inexperienced practitioners performing these procedures, leading to serious concerns about the safety and wellbeing of, and outcomes for, patients.
You may have seen TV news stories of cosmetic surgeons acting unprofessionally while performing serious surgeries. Or you may have read of patients with bad outcomes after surgery by unqualified or inexperienced practitioners.
These stories have shone a spotlight on the cosmetic surgery industry and brought about changes in the way cosmetic and plastic surgery is regulated in Australia.
This is a good thing.
As a result, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) will implement stricter regulations on cosmetic and plastic surgery providers to ensure patient safety and wellbeing. With these changes, there are implications for cosmetic surgery providers and implications for patients.
At Pure Aesthetics, we welcome some of the new cosmetic surgery regulations. While there are some benefits of stricter regulations, we remain concerned that the new regulations do not go far enough and do not require doctors performing cosmetic surgeries to have undertaken specialist plastic surgery training with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS).
This blog will provide an overview of the current regulations for cosmetic surgery procedures and what the new changes, which come into effect on 1 July 2023, will mean.
What are the Current Regulations?
Under the current regulations cosmetic surgery is not recognised by the MBA as a type of specialty surgery and this will all cosmetic surgery procedures to be performed by any doctor, with only the most basic university medical qualification. In other words, doctors like a General Practitioner (GP) can legally perform cosmetic surgeries. These doctors usually call themselves “Cosmetic Surgeons” and are not usually specialists in surgery.
On the other hand, a Specialist Plastic Surgeon will have completed a minimum of 12 years of medical and surgical education, including a minimum of five years of specialist postgraduate training in plastic surgery. Specialist Plastic Surgeons are recognised as Fellows of the RACS and use the acronym “FRACS” after their name.
What Are The New Regulations?
The new model of accreditation of cosmetic surgery is known as an “Endorsement of Registration”.
The Endorsement of Registration
The Endorsement of Registration introduces new minimum standards of education, training and qualification for doctors wanting to perform cosmetic surgery. In order to be approved to perform cosmetic surgery, they will need to provide evidence of their qualifications to the MBA.
The issue with the Endorsement of Registration model is that it allows doctors themselves to decide if they have the right competency to perform cosmetic surgeries.
The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) and the RACS opposes the new Endorsement of Registration Model, stating “Cosmetic surgery is significant surgery, and RACS cannot sanction a training program with lower standards than existing specialty surgical training programs.”
At Pure Aesthetics, we support the RACS position and believe that cosmetic and plastic surgery should only be performed by Specialist Plastic Surgeons who have received specialist training by the RACS and are Fellows of the RACS (FRACS).
All prospective patients will need to have an assessment for “body dysmorphia”, a psychological condition, prior to surgery, and if this assessment raises issues, then referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist is mandatory.
The surgeon, not a nurse or other practitioner, must discuss the procedure with the patient before the procedure takes place and the surgeon must perform the appropriate care following the procedure. Pure Aesthetics surgeons have always conducted your two preoperative consultations in this manner.
Cosmetic surgery clinics must adhere to specific health and safety guidelines and standards, including requirements for infection control measures.
This can be costly and time-consuming for providers to implement, but it ultimately improves patient safety and increases trust in our industry. Both Pure Aesthetics and the hospitals at which our surgeons perform their surgery have always met these standards.
Patients will now need a referral from their GP prior to undergoing any procedure. This ensures that the GP, who has an understanding of the patient’s overall health and wellbeing, is part of the process.
The new regulations also place greater emphasis on informed consent for patients. Providers must ensure that patients fully understand the risks and benefits of the procedure, as well as any alternative treatment options. Patients must also be informed of the qualifications and experience of the practitioner performing the procedure.
There is also a longer cooling-off period between the patient giving informed consent and the procedure.
What Does This Mean For Cost Of Procedures?
Stricter regulations should not affect the cost of procedures.
The costs of procedures at Pure Aesthetics will not increase due to the new regulations.
Pure Aesthetics Equals Specialist Plastic Surgeons
At Pure Aesthetics, our three surgeons, Drs Steven Merten, Robert Knight and Sepehr Lajevardi, are all qualified and experienced Specialist Plastic Surgeons and have undergone speciality training through RACS and are Fellows of the RACS (FRACS) in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. They are all members of ASPS and ASAPS.
Choosing an experienced and qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeon to perform your cosmetic surgery ensures your surgery will be performed by a fully trained, specialist surgeon, not an “endorsed” non-specialist surgeon.
You should research your surgeon’s qualifications and experience, question your prospective surgeon and ask for before-and-after photos of their work on previous patients. Appropriately qualified and experienced surgeons will be very happy to provide these.
At Pure Aesthetics, we believe that anyone who is interested in a cosmetic surgery procedure only go to a Specialist Plastic Surgeon – in other words, someone who is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS).
If you’d like to know more about the regulatory changes to the cosmetic surgery industry or to book an appointment with one of our Specialist Plastic Surgeons, get in touch with our friendly Pure Aesthetics team