Australians now spend more on cosmetic surgery per capita than Americans. As popular as it is, Cosmetic surgery is far less regulated than other areas in medicine. It’s not uncommon for you to be left with questions such as, what is the difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon?
The main difference is in the level of education and training. A Plastic Surgeon has a minimum of 7 to 15 years of post-graduate training after qualifying their medical degree. It is important to look out for their qualification as a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons (FRACS- Plastic Surgery) and their membership to the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
In Australia, a doctor with a medical degree can promote themselves as performing “cosmetic Surgery”, even with no surgical training. A “cosmetic surgeon” can originate from any medical specialty or no specialty at all. They may not have received any surgical training, beyond basic medical school training.
Plastic Surgeon vs Cosmetic Surgeon: Understanding the Credentials
We recommend you check the Doctors’ credentials with the below organisations when considering any cosmetic or plastic surgery. In Australia there is no regulatory body for cosmetic surgery.
Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
Ph: 1300 367 446
This is a not-for-profit membership organisation which represents Plastic Surgeons in Australia who perform both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Members must be Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) and have completed specialist training in plastic surgery and must adhere to a strict code of ethics.
Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS)
This training is recognised by the Australian Medical Council, which is authorised by the Federal Government to certify medical training. This distinction is only awarded to specialist surgeons who have completed a minimum of 12 years medical and surgical education, with at least 5 years of specialist postgraduate training.
Royal Australian College of Surgeons (RACS)
Ph: (03) 9249 1200
Since there is no regulatory body for cosmetic surgery in Australia, it is up to the patient to do their homework and be clear on the difference between cosmetic and plastic surgeons. The patient must also check the credentials and profiles and reviews via third party websites to ensure impartiality. RealSelf is one such site that we recommend visiting.