Cosmetic Surgeon vs Plastic Surgeon
Choosing the Right Doctor
By far the most important decision you will make when contemplating breast surgery, or any type of cosmetic surgery, is your choice of surgeon.
There are countless media reports of botched surgery resulting from poorly-qualified and inexperienced doctors, and inappropriate use of anaesthetics.
These stories highlight the dangers of choosing ‘cosmetic doctors’ over specialist ‘plastic surgeons’.
It is not a well-known fact, but there is a significant difference between a cosmetic surgeon and a plastic surgeon. Currently in Australia, it is legal for any doctor to perform surgery and call themselves a ‘cosmetic surgeon’.
Consequently, the training, skills and experience of cosmetic surgeons varies greatly, as can the operating environments used and the use of anaesthetics.
The key difference with Dr Mistry is that he is a fully qualified and accredited specialist ‘plastic surgeon’ – not a doctor without specialist training and experience calling themselves ‘cosmetic surgeons’.
Importantly, your surgery takes place in a fully-accredited, premium hospital under general anaesthetic, administered by a fully-qualified anaesthetist accredited with ANZCA (the Australian & New Zealand College of Anaesthetists).
For any cosmetic procedure, it is essential to check that your surgeon is a specialist plastic surgeon and member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons.
In Australia, ‘specialist plastic surgeons’:
Have trained in specialist plastic surgery for a minimum of 5 years and have at least 12 years’ medical and surgical education and experience;
Are Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons – look for ‘FRACS Plast’ qualification after their name;
Have undergone extensive training to perform invasive surgical procedures covering all aspects of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, frequently undertaking fellowship training overseas with experienced plastic surgeons; and
Are members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, recognised by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons as the only legitimate professional body representing the field of cosmetic surgery in Australia.
According to the Medical Board of Australia, under current Australian law, practitioners do not need to be a fully-qualified plastic surgeon to perform cosmetic surgery.
“Even a GP who has done no training can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon,” says Board Chair, Dr Joanna Flynn.
A news story by the Daily Mail Australia highlights this issue, serving as a harsh warning to anyone considering cosmetic surgery.
“Unaccredited medical practitioners without specialist surgical accreditation from the Australian Medical Association can legally perform cosmetic surgery in Australia,” the report states. Read the full report here.
The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons has also raised concerns about the use of general anaesthetic in office-based operating environments.
“In general, if you’re getting any anaesthetic, you want an anaesthetist to take care of you while the surgeon is doing the surgery,” Dr Flynn said.
The current anomalies in Australia’s legal framework means there is a significant difference in the level of accreditation and training across the spectrum of doctors calling themselves ‘cosmetic surgeons’.
Reduce Your Chance of Risk
All surgical procedures carry risk, but you can reduce your chance of risk and complication by consulting a specialist plastic surgeon who is properly trained, qualified and accredited to perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
To find out if your surgeon is appropriately qualified, you can search the official register of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons here.