Have you heard the latest news about cosmetic surgery in Australia?
Did you understand its implications for patients and practitioners? Costhetics understands that unless you follow aesthetic news carefully, the new regulations may have slipped under your radar. That triggered the question: what else should patients in Australia know about laws regarding cosmetic procedures? This article has the answers.
First, however, we’re going to catch you up on the newest piece of legislation…
Newsflash: Winter Will See Big Changes for Cosmetic Surgery Referrals
On July 1st, strict new laws imposed by the Medical Board will be enacted. Among the most striking changes are
- Seeking cosmetic surgery will require a GP’s referral.
- Surgeons will also have to screen patients for underlying psychological conditions that could make them unsuitable for cosmetic procedures.
The Law Says: Cosmetic Surgeons & Other Aesthetic Professionals are Different
Aesthetic enhancement is a broad term that embraces a wide range of procedures and treatments. It can be further broken down into these two distinct categories.
- Cosmetic surgery is a medical procedure. It is defined as a cutting beneath the skin “with the dominant purpose of achieving what the patient perceives to be a more desirable appearance.” Cosmetic surgeons are regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
- Cosmetic procedures are minimally or non-invasive treatments. These rejuvenation techniques require no cutting beneath the skin. The best practitioners have gone through some medical training as these procedures may involve injectables. Unfortunately, less-than-the-best practitioners have not, so beware of low-cost offerings in out-of-the-way locations (like hotel rooms).
In a related issue: the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates medicines and products that are marketed as having a ‘therapeutic’ effect – including “most skin-whitening lotions, primary sunscreens, disinfectants, complementary medicines and blood products.
Use Our 3-Point Checklist to Review Prospective Cosmetic Surgeons
Cosmetic surgery is serious business. In the hands of the wrong person, it can be a dangerous one. This is why the law stipulates that doctors without recognised surgical training who call themselves cosmetic surgeons may face three years in prison and a $60,000 fine. When considering a prospective cosmetic surgeon in Australia, determine whether they pass the ultimate “sniff test,” encapsulated in these three questions:
- Are they registered with AHPRA
- Are they licensed as a medical practitioner, dentist, or nurse practitioner
- Are they trained and experienced in the specific procedure you are seeking.
The Where of Cosmetic Surgery is Determined by the Government
For reasons of patient health and safety, all states and territories in Australia define where cosmetic surgery can and cannot take place. In some jurisdictions, these surgeries are cleared to occur in licensed facilities only.
If you’re uncertain as to the rules and regs where you are, the website for the government’s Department of Health and Aged Care can help. Their website includes a Choose a Licensed Facility page with links to state/territory-specific requirements.
5 Things Smart Patients Do Before Undergoing Cosmetic Surgery
The Internet is a wonderful source of information in so many ways. When it comes to finding a licensed cosmetic surgeon in Australia, however, the information it provides may be limited…and downright suspect in some cases.
In addition to scrubbing the web, Costhetics recommends you supplement your online hunt with these IRL activities. They will help you make the best, most informed decision so you can achieve the most benefits from your surgery:
- Get recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues.
- Check the surgeon’s qualifications and experience.
- Visit the surgeon’s clinic and see the facilities.
- Ask about the cost of the procedure and any associated fees.
- Get everything in writing, including the consent form.
What Is Your Inner Voice Saying?
In the end, Costhetics urges you to trust your instincts regarding any prospective surgeon. You may be looking forward to cosmetic surgery as a life-changing experience, but that shouldn’t overshadow your awareness that it is a medical procedure with risks involved. Thanks to the laws:
- You will have time to ask questions before you commit – The law mandates patients have two pre-op consultations before they are asked to sign the required informed consent forms. This requirement gives patients the time they need to think through their choices.
- You can say no after you’ve said yes – The law provides for a 7-day cooling off period after a consent form is signed. Only when a week has passed do patients book procedures and pay deposits.
If you’ve done your research, but something seems ‘off’ after you’ve arrived for a consult or visited the surgical rooms, hit pause and step back for a moment. It is never too late to ask questions, postpone a procedure, or get a second opinion. It is, in fact, never too late (and perfectly alright) to change your mind entirely! You do you!
Let Costhetics Help You Find Your Happy
If you need help identifying a surgeon or aesthetic professional in your area, Costhetics can help. Scratch that. We want to help! Contact us and let us be your guide to help you find the right practitioner to bring your aesthetic dreams into reality.