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When it comes to medical terms, it’s easy to get confused, especially if they sound similar. Many people use the phrases ‘cosmetic surgeon’ and ‘plastic surgeon’ interchangeably but not many know that they mean  entirely different things! We’re going to unpack these terms and explain the real difference between cosmetic and specialist plastic surgeons, and what this means for you when you want to undergo plastic surgery.

Qualifications and experience

Did you know that in Australia it is legal for any doctor with a basic medical degree to perform cosmetic surgery? These cosmetic doctors are not necessarily surgically trained or qualified. Specialist plastic surgeons, on the other hand, must undergo 8 – 12 years of specialist surgical training after they complete their medical degree.

Training and recognition

Specialist plastic surgeons are recognised by medical bodies such as AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) and RACS (the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons). They are also registered with official plastic surgery societies like ASAPS (Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) and ASPS (Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons). Another tip to identify whether your surgeon is a specialist plastic surgeon is to check whether they have FRACS in their official title. FRACS stands for Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and this accreditation indicates years of experience and a formal acknowledgement of the surgeon’s qualifications.

Hospital facilities and working with accredited anaesthetists

As cosmetic surgeons can often be GPs (general practitioners) who have done a short course in medical training for plastic surgery, it may mean that they do not have the necessary training and/or facilities for plastic surgery procedures. Instead, they have to resort to performing operations in their practice which is not ideal. Specialist plastic surgeons have the rights and admitting privileges to work in accredited hospitals and they work together with accredited anaesthetists which can make a very big difference in the outcome as well as in patient safety, comfort and after care.

The verdict?

Since regulations are quite relaxed here in Australia, more and more GPs are offering cosmetic surgery procedures these days. While all surgical procedures carry risk, you can reduce the chance of complications by going to a Specialist Plastic Surgeon who is trained, qualified and accredited to perform reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. We’re talking about your safety – you want the desired surgical outcome without risks and complications, so it pays to do your research and choose wisely. At Forme Institute, all of our plastic surgeons are specialist plastic surgeons who have been recognised as outstanding, ethical and well-reputed professionals in their field which has also been endorsed by RACS, ASAPS and ASPS.

If you have a query about any plastic surgery procedure, please get in touch with our team at Forme Institute. 

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FRACS (Plastic Surgery) – Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
Past President : ASAPS ( Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons)
Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
PhD (Eyelid Surgery) – University of Louisville, USA