Cosmetic surgeons: A botched job title?

Wednesday 9 January 2019
Isabelle McCombe

Every year Australians spend approximately $1 billion on cosmetic surgery and treatment.  This amounts to over 500,000 procedures and includes 20,000 breast augmentation surgeries.  Considering these numbers, it is unsurprising that the number of doctors joining the industry has dramatically increased. 

Not known to the general public/ consumer, however, is that doctors without surgical training who refer to themselves as “cosmetic surgeons” continue to perform complex and invasive cosmetic procedures, sometimes with devastating consequences for patients. 

What’s in a name?

In Australia, any doctor with a basic medical degree can perform surgery.  As the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons points out, this has led to numerous doctors with basic medical degrees calling themselves “cosmetic surgeons”, a title that is not recognised by the Australian Health Practitioner’s Regulation Agency or the National Medical Board. 

In comparison, a “plastic surgeon” undergoes eight to twelve years of surgical training, in addition to their basic medical degree. 

It is important to note that in order for a doctor to call themselves a “Specialist Plastic Surgeon” a doctor must be a Commonwealth Government accredited plastic surgeon, trained and qualified to perform invasive reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.

Regulating cosmetic surgeons

In an effort to provide more protection to consumers, the Committee on the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) conducted an Inquiry into cosmetic procedure complaints and made 16 recommendations. 

One recommendation was that the use of the title “cosmetic surgeon” should be solely reserved for doctors who have undertaken prescribed additional surgical training and accreditation.  A move that would stop doctors from promoting themselves to the public as specially trained surgeons.

Making a claim for compensation

If you or someone you know has suffered injuries as a result of a cosmetic procedure, it is important to get the right advice as you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. 

This type of claim is commonly referred to as a “medical negligence” claim.

Your claim may be against the doctor who performed the procedure, the clinic where the procedure took place, or both.

Call us on (03) 9321 9988 to discuss your particular circumstances.

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