The Difference Between Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery

What is Plastic Surgery? How Does It Vary From Cosmetic Surgery, and Why Is It So Important to Choose a Plastic Surgeon?

Cosmetic and plastic surgery are often used interchangeably by those not practising in the field. With this confusion, it’s no surprise there’s confusion surrounding what the differences are between cosmetic and plastic surgery, or why it’s so important to choose an appropriate surgeon. After all, aren’t they the same thing? Well, not really.

What is Cosmetic Surgery?

Cosmetic surgery generally refers to surgery that is not medically required but is undertaken by a patient seeking to change their appearance for aesthetic reasons. Examples of cosmetic surgery may include:

Face Lifts
Brow Lifts
Eyelid Lifts
Breast enlargement

What is Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery refers to a special area of surgery, which aims to improve the function of a deformity as well as the ability to function. For example: surgery to correct a cleft palate or to rebuild a woman’s breast(s) after breast cancer is considered plastic surgery.

Did you know medical practitioners without formal surgical training can perform surgery if the patients agree to the procedure?

In Australia it is not currently illegal for a medical practitioner (for example, a GP) to perform surgery if you agree to it.

As long as a doctor has obtained a MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery), they are able to perform surgery. The main issue surrounding this is that invasive surgical procedures are not included in an MBBS.

How Can I Be Sure I’m Choosing the Right Surgeon For Me?

To be able to promote the fact a surgeon is specialising in plastic surgery, they must have undertaken extensive training in all aspects of cosmetic and plastic surgery, this equates to 12 years of medical and surgical training. These surgeons will be members of ASPS (Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons) and FRACS (Fellows of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons).

The most efficient way of ensuring you are considering the correct surgeons for your treatment, is to follow these three easy steps:

  1.  Call the ASPS on 1300 367 446, they will be able to tell you if the surgeon you are considering has received AMC (Australian Medical Council) accreditation.
  2.  Once confirming with the AMC, arrange a consultation with your chosen surgeon to discuss your concerns, and the desired outcome. Remember during these consultations you don’t have to commit to the first surgeon you talk to, surgery is a big decision and you must feel comfortable with the person altering your body.
  3. Request to see before and afters of previous patients, this will give you an idea of the quality of work they deliver and if you will be happy with the end result.

If My Procedure is Performed by a Specialist, Will There Still Be Risks?

In short, regardless of who performs your surgery there will be risks. However, by choosing a non-specialist you may be increasing the risk.

Did you know, in Australia it is not illegal to conduct surgical procedures in unaccredited facilities, such as an office space or day procedure centre.

By choosing a surgeon who is a member of the ASPS, you can be assured that you will receive the quality of care you deserve. A specialist plastic surgeon registered with the ASPS can only perform surgery in an accredited facility which has been quality tested to ensure:

• The anaesthesia used is safe
• A high quality of infection control, including sterile supply and clinical waste management is adhered to
• Audit requirements are met (including use by dates. This also applies to any machines used, for example resuscitation machines)
• Clinical staff have the appropriate credentials