The Common FAQs, and Myths and Facts pages of the Foundation website are designed to assist the media in covering stories about Plastic Surgery. For further information, including interview requests, please contact us.
What is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon?
A Specialist Plastic Surgeon is a Commonwealth Government accredited plastic surgeon, trained and qualified to perform invasive cosmetic and reconstructive surgery in public and private hospitals, and accredited day surgeries. In Australia, the national Medical Board states that the “Specialist Plastic Surgeon” title can only be used by FRACS approved specialist surgeons in the recognised specialty of plastic surgery.
How is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon different from other medical practitioners?
Currently in Australia, it is legal for any doctor with a basic medical degree to perform surgery. Specialist Plastic Surgeons, on the other hand, have extensive surgical education and training including a minimum of 12 years medical and surgical education, with at least 5 years of specialist postgraduate training.
All surgical procedures carry risk, but you can reduce the chance of risk and complication by consulting a Specialist Plastic Surgeon who is trained, qualified and accredited to perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
How are Specialist Plastic Surgeons educated, trained and accredited?
Specialist Plastic Surgeons are accredited by the Commonwealth Governments of Australia and New Zealand, through the Australian Medical Council (AMC) and New Zealand Medical Council (NZMC) respectively, to perform all aspects of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. All Specialist Plastic Surgeons must undergo extensive medical education and training to become accredited. The surgical specialist pathway includes a minimum of 12 years medical and surgical education, with at least 5 years of specialist postgraduate training.
The five year postgraduate Plastic Surgery Education and Training Program (SET) for surgical registrars is provided by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and administered by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons Inc (ASPS). It is important to note that RACS is the only College in Australia that is accredited by the Commonwealth Government to deliver specialist surgical training. Upon completion of their surgical education and training, qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeons become “Fellows” of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS).
What are the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures undertaken in Australia and New Zealand?
No one knows exactly how much cosmetic surgery is being performed in Australia or New Zealand, as national statistics for the industry are not collected at this time. This is partly due to the fact that most cosmetic surgery is elective and in Australia, these procedures are not covered by Medicare.
The other contributing factor is that so many different practitioners perform cosmetic surgery, ranging from Specialist Plastic Surgeons to doctors, dermatologists and beauticians. For this reason statistics on individual procedures are also not available. It is generally accepted, however, that there has been a big rise in the past 10 years.
Is cosmetic surgery for brides currently on the rise?
While figures for cosmetic surgery are not officially collected, anecdotal accounts from Specialist Plastic Surgeons have noted an increase in all types of cosmetic surgery, including those sought out prior to weddings.
It is not advisable to undergo any major procedures prior to a big event, as every now and then complications arise from which there is insufficient time to recover. Surgical procedures should be completed many months before a wedding to ensure complete recovery. Some injectable treatments may be done closer to the wedding day, however, it is essential that patients consult their Specialist Plastic Surgeon well ahead of time.
Can you breastfeed after breast augmentation?
Individual cases may vary but generally, mothers can breastfeed after having a breast augmentation. There is no evidence to suggest that the ability to breastfeed is adversely affected by the presence of breast implants, however, some women do experience reduced nipple sensation following breast augmentation surgery, and nipple sensation is an important part of the milk let down reflex. For more information about the procedure, visit our breast augmentation page.
Will a woman who’s had breast reduction surgery be able to breastfeed?
When conducting breast surgery reduction, the surgeon is always concerned with the preservations of breastfeeding potential in women. However, ability to breastfeed following breast reduction surgery may be affected. Women who intend to breastfeed in the future are advised to discuss the matter with their surgeon. For more information about this procedure, visit the breast reduction page.
Is it safe to have injectable fillers during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
There is a lack of controlled studies into the effects of injectable fillers, such as Botox®, on pregnant and breastfeeding women. Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say whether it is safe or unsafe. For caution, the Foundation recommends that women avoid using injectable fillers when pregnant or breastfeeding.
Cosmetic surgery overseas: which countries and what procedures are the most popular?
We don’t know which cosmetic procedures are most popular overseas, as statistics are not collected at this time. However, a recent survey of Specialist Plastic Surgeons in Australia suggested that a substantial number of breast surgeries are being performed overseas. Breast surgery has also been found to be the most common kind of surgery requiring corrective treatment. Some of the countries to which patients commonly travel for cosmetic surgery include Thailand, Malaysia and South America.
What advice do you have for patients thinking about travelling overseas for cosmetic surgery?
Patients often say that cost is the main reason for choosing to travel overseas for cosmetic surgery. However, if there are complications with the surgery and revisions are needed, that initial cost can increase significantly. It is therefore important that patientsassess all the risks involved before making an informed decision.
Patients must do their homework and make sure tjat the person performing the procedure is properly qualified and accredited. It is also important to make sure that the surgery will take place in an accredited facility that is to the standards set by the Australian Day Surgery Council.
Some of the questions patients should ask before making a decision are:
- Is my surgeon a member of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS)? This means they have some form of internationally recognised qualification
- Have I got the right information and had enough time to give informed consent?
- Has there been at least a week between appointments so that I have had adequate time to consider surgery and make an informed decision?
- Are the medical standards of care and quality control requirements at least as good as those in Australia and New Zealand?
- Have I been assured that the devices and products used in overseas hospitals meet Australian and New Zealand standards? For example, breast implants used in Australia must meet strict standards of safety and effectiveness, a process regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Other countries may not have similar regulations
- Have I got a plan for what I will do in the case of post-operative problems?
- Did I actually see the surgeon, or was the initial ‘free’ visit with a nurse or administration person?
- Did I get full, written financial details, including all out of pocket expenses for not only the surgeon, but also the anaesthetist, assistant and hospital theatre or facility costs?
- Were the risks and complications explained to me?
- What will happen if things go wrong? Will by surgeon accept liability?
- Where will I be financially if things go wrong, what other costs do I need to consider?
- Have I been told about post-operative care and what to do if complications arise after the surgery?
Post-operative care is vital to your recovery from surgery and should not be combined with a holiday. Sitting by the pool, drinking cocktails and snorkelling does not qualify as post-operative care. A qualified and accredited surgeon should offer their patients a high level of post-operative care. For more information on what to do after surgery, visit the procedures section of this website.
Can cosmetic surgery be carried out on children?
There are many situations where surgery for children is beneficial and clinically indicated for physical and psychological health reasons. A blanket ban on all cosmetic surgery for all children would not be in the best interests of some children.
In parts of Australia, restrictions have been put in place when it comes to cosmetic surgery and children. This includes signed parental consent, and a minimum cooling off period between consultations.
For any Specialist Plastic Surgeon, the considerations include the best interests of the child, whether the parental consent is rational and informed, whether the child is sufficiently mature, the health of the child and the timing of the procedure – and whether it would be better to wait until adulthood.