Cosmetic Surgery Myths Busted!

Cosmetic Surgery Myths Busted!

The Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery recently set the record straight on education and training of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeons and called for national education and training standards in Cosmetic Surgery.

Dr John Flynn said the College was particularly concerned that misstatements by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons are likely to confuse members of the Australian community who may be considering having Cosmetic Surgery.

“It’s important to understand that there’s no recognised specialty of Cosmetic Surgery. Claims that a Plastic Surgeon has a recognised specialist qualification in Cosmetic Surgery due to their Plastic Surgery qualification are simply untrue,” Dr Flynn said.

Dr Flynn noted that although Plastic Surgeons learn the necessary competencies to undertake Cosmetic Surgery training and may be introduced to some cosmetic procedures, like any other practitioner they must undertake Cosmetic Surgery training AFTER their Plastic Surgery training to be properly qualified.

The ACCS is the only medical college which provides education and training leading to fellowship specifically in cosmetic medicine and surgery.

“In the meantime,” Dr Flynn warned, “it is important that consumers do their homework to ensure that their surgeon is properly trained in Cosmetic Surgery. Ask your surgeon to show you their CV and explain their level of training and how often they perform the procedure that you are considering.”

The Commonly-Held Myths:

Myth 1: Cosmetic Surgery is a “subspecialty” of Plastic Surgery.

Busted: Neither the Australian Medical Council, which assesses medical specialties and training, nor the Medical Board of Australia which licenses doctors, recognise subspecialties. Cosmetic Surgery is performed by doctors from several different disciplines as are Plastic Surgery procedures.

Myth 2: Cosmetic Surgery is a recognised part of Plastic Surgery.

Busted: The AMC has never recognised Cosmetic Surgery as uniquely part of Plastic Surgery.

The only mention of Cosmetic Surgery in any AMC assessment of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) education and training program was in 2002, when the RACS Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons was quoted conceding that it was merely trying to expose some of its trainees to Cosmetic Surgery as well as the separate non-RACS surgical specialty of maxillofacial surgery. (“Accreditation Report: Review of the education and training programs of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons”, AMC, 2002, p 21).

The AMC report made clear that ASPS did not provide Cosmetic Surgery training comprehensively or universally to its Plastic Surgery trainees, and Cosmetic Surgery has not been mentioned in subsequent AMC assessments.

Myth 3: Plastic surgeons are qualified to perform Cosmetic Surgery and non-plastic surgeons are not qualified.

Busted: There is no government recognised qualification in Cosmetic Surgery. Plastic surgeons, like other medical practitioners, must obtain cosmetic surgical training in the private sector AFTER they complete their Plastic Surgery training (and not all do!). By comparison, to become a Cosmetic Surgeon and ACCS Fellow, doctors must typically complete a minimum of 12 years of medical and surgical education and training, including at least five years of post-medical school experience and training including three years as a surgical registrar BEFORE they begin their Cosmetic Surgery-specific fellowship training. They also may have another specialist qualification.

Myth 4: Anyone with a medical degree can call themselves a Cosmetic Surgeon and perform Cosmetic Surgery procedures.

Busted: Any Plastic Surgeon can call themselves a Cosmetic Surgeon without having undergone sufficient specific Cosmetic Surgery training. As the UK health authorities have also noted, registration as a specialist including in Plastic Surgery “does not give any assurance that a surgeon has received adequate training in Cosmetic Surgery”.

Myth 5: The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) is the only government recognised specialist surgical training program.

Busted: RACS is not the only government recognised specialist surgical training program. Other medical colleges provide recognised specialist surgical training. Specialists such as Maxillofacial Surgeons, Ophthalmologists, Gynaecologists, receive recognised training in and perform surgical procedures. Some of them also train in and perform Cosmetic Surgery.