Finding a Plastic Surgeon

Be careful when choosing your surgeon. In Australia, not all medical practitioners performing cosmetic surgery are plastic surgeons or have any formal surgery training. These practitioners usually call themselves - “cosmetic surgeon” or “cosmetic physician”. They have recently formed a “college of cosmetic surgery” in an attempt to gain some credibility. This “college” is not formally recognised by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons or the government. 

So, where do you start?

  • Ask your friends – if she/he has had a procedure like the one you are considering. Remember every patient’s needs are unique.
  • Ask your GP and/or specialists.
  • Call a hospital of your choice and ask for names of certified surgeons
  • Contact ASPS (Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons) on 1300 367 446, or visit www.plasticsurgery.org.au, where you can find the plastic surgeons near you and other information about your intended operations.
  • Internet, Yellow pages or local newspapers – be careful of glossy advertising from non-qualified practitioners.

Qualifications to check

  • A properly qualified surgeon has the following letters next to his/her name – FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons).
  • A qualified plastic surgeon has completed approximately 10 years in post-graduate training, including surgical training in various disciplines and at least four years in all areas of plastic surgery – including cosmetic, hand surgery, microsurgery and reconstructive surgery. Many plastic surgeons choose to sub-specialise in cosmetic surgery only. 
  • Practitioners without formal qualifications will try to trick you with a string of letters after their name – most of these “credentials” are not recognised by Australian standards.

Positive signals

  • A reputable surgeon will listen carefully to your problem and give honest advice as to your suitability for a procedure.
  • A reputable surgeon should explain what can and can’t realistically be achieved with the operation; and the risks and complications associated with it.
  • Ideally, there are two visits to the surgeon prior to surgery – to allow you time to think and discuss with family or friends.
  • t’s important to feel comfortable with your surgeon.
  • If you are unsure, it is advisable to seek a second opinion. Many reputable surgeons will suggest that you do so.

Beware if a surgeon…

  • Is pushy, uses “hard-sell” tactics or suggests you need procedures other than the one you’re seeking.
  • Calls you, or his staff calls you, after a consultation to try and book you for surgery.
  • Offers a discount if you book surgery on the spot, or offers to organise finance if you say you can’t afford it.
  • Claims to be better than any other doctor.
  • Is prepared to operate on you without having a consultation.

Your cosmetic surgery checklist

  1. Finding a properly qualified surgeon – is he/she a real surgeon, (i.e. FRACS), is he/she a member of ASPS?
  2. Initial consultation. Did you feel “right” and comfortable? Were you given time to think and a second consultation recommended?
  3. Be honest with yourself and your surgeon. Why do you want cosmetic surgery? What do you expect it to do for you?

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