MYTH: That cosmetic surgery advertising is highly regulated
Commercial factors drive advertising. There is a danger that unethical advertising inflates patient
expectations while ignoring or trivialising the risks of surgical procedures.
ASPS promotes transparency of information for consumers about education, qualifications and accreditation of premises so that consumers are fully informed.
ASPS’ Code of Practice outlines the professional and ethical standards which are expected from its members.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What’s the difference between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery?
Cosmetic (aesthetic) surgery is one aspect of the broader field of Plastic Surgery. Specialist Plastic
Surgery training includes cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery.
A ‘cosmetic service’ means an operation, procedure or treatment undertaken for the dominant purpose of improving appearance or improving psychological wellbeing.
Reconstructive surgery is concerned with improving bodily function and performed on abnormal structures of the body caused by, for example, congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, infection, tumours or disease.
What is the difference between a cosmetic doctor and a plastic surgeon?
In Australia, a Specialist Plastic Surgeon has completed his basic medical degree (e.g. MBBS) plus
a further post-graduate five year training program delivered by the Royal Australasian College of
Surgeons and accredited by the Australian Medical Council (AMC). Specialist Plastic Surgeons are
Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS).
What are the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures undertaken in Australia?
Reliable national statistics for cosmetic procedures are not collected at this time. This is partly
due to the fact that cosmetic surgery is both elective and not covered by Medicare. The other contributing factor is that many different practitioners perform invasive and non invasive cosmetic procedures.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a growing interest by consumers in cosmetic
How many men are undertaking cosmetic surgery and what are the most common procedures?
Reliable national statistics for cosmetic procedures, by gender, are not collected at this time. This
is partly due to the fact that cosmetic surgery is elective and not covered by Medicare. The other
contributing factor is that many different practitioners perform invasive and non invasive cosmetic procedures.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that both men and women choose cosmetic procedures.
Is cosmetic surgery for brides currently on the rise?
While figures are not officially collected, anecdotally, all types of cosmetic surgery, including
those sought out prior to weddings, are on the rise.
It is not advisable to have any major procedure conducted prior to a big event, as recovery time may differ from patient to patient. Surgical procedures should be done many months before a wedding to ensure complete recovery, but injectable treatments can be done closer to the time.
Can you breastfeed after breast augmentation?
Individual cases may vary but generally, mothers can breastfeed after having a breast augmentation.
There is no evidence to suggest that the ability to breastfeed is adversely affected by the presence
of breast implants, however, some women do experience reduced nipple sensation following breast
augmentation surgery, and nipple sensation is an important part of the milk let down reflex.
Will a woman who’s had breast reduction surgery be able to breastfeed?
The Specialist Plastic Surgeon will discuss the preservation of breastfeeding potential with the
patient choosing breast surgery reduction. Research shows that when compared to a group of women of similar weight, breastfeeding rates are about the same (around 65%), either with breast
reduction surgery or without it.
Is it safe to have Botulinum Toxin (commonly referred to as “Botox”) injections during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
There is a lack of controlled studies into the effects of Botulinum Toxin on pregnant and breastfeeding women, therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say either way whether it is safe.
For caution, ASPS recommends avoiding the use of Botulinum Toxin in pregnant women or having
treatments while breastfeeding.
Which procedures are most popular with Australians travelling overseas for cosmetic surgery?
We don’t know which procedures are most popular with Australians overseas as reliable statistics are not available. Anecdotal evidence suggests that breast augmentation is a popular choice.
Are all overseas surgeons as skilled as Australian surgeons?
Many overseas surgeons are highly skilled. Not everyone who travels to another country for a procedure will experience complications.
What advice do you have for Australians thinking about travelling overseas for cosmetic surgery?
Australians who plan to undertake cosmetic surgery overseas should know who their surgeon is and research their qualifications as well as understanding the level of accreditation of the facility in which the procedure is performed.
Knowing the medical standards of care and quality control requirements in a foreign country and
comparing them to those in Australia is another important piece of research before agreeing to overseas surgery.
You should also investigate the standard of implants, devices and products to be used in your surgery and compare these with Australian standards.
Research the person or company promoting the surgery to see if they’re medically trained and will accept liability or provide any help if problems arise.
As a minimum you should ensure the post-operative care period is taken seriously and have a back-up plan in case things go wrong.
Can children have cosmetic surgery?
There are many situations where surgery for children is beneficial and clinically indicated for
physical and psychological health reasons. A blanket ban on surgery for all children would be a
blunt instrument and would not be in the best interests of some children. For any surgeon, the
considerations include the best interests of the child, whether the parental consent is informed,
whether the child is sufficiently mature, the health of the child and the timing of the procedure and whether it would be better to wait until adulthood.
ASPS encourages its member surgeons to be conservative in their approach when considering surgery in children.
RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH COSMETIC SURGERY
• Unfavourable scarring
• Bleeding (hematoma)
• Fluid accumulation
• Poor wound healing
• Skin loss
• Blood clots
• Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
• Anaesthesia risks
• Skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling
• Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
• Major wound separation
• Pain, which may persist
• Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
• Possibility of revision surgery
• Suboptimal aesthetic result