From 1 July 2023 how patients are able to research surgery and surgeons will change dramatically. So will the process if they decide they want surgery. Find out more about the changes and what you can expect as a prospective patient below.
Why are the rules changing?
Under guidelines issued by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), all doctors who offer cosmetic surgery must comply with strict new rules in their marketing and the processes they have in their clinics.
These changes came from well publicised media reports about poor outcomes for patients, particularly those resulting from surgery from under qualified cosmetic doctors who misleadingly called themselves 'cosmetic surgeons'. Some of these people seemed more focused more on their dance routines on TikTok than patient safety and care. Unfortunately, the regulators failed to act for years despite the warnings from surgeons like Dr Moncrieff and other Specialist Plastic Surgeons from right across Australia. We saw terrible outcomes and would escalate them in communication with the regulators, but nothing of substance was done!
So now we are faced with new rules which may assist in cracking down on some of the cowboys, but will also make it harder for patients to do their research and then undertake the surgical journey.
Cosmetic v reconstructive (medical) plastic surgery:
It is important to note that these changes relate to 'cosmetic surgery' which AHPRA defines as surgery such as breast augmentation and cosmetic abdominoplasty.
For 'reconstructive' (medical) plastic surgery, including breast reduction or abdominoplasty where there is a medical need, the new rules don't technically apply. However, given the mix of procedures most surgeons offer it is almost impossible to differentiate in the marketing or processes in the practice, so many clinics will have to apply the new rules across the board.
Changes that will have the biggest impact on patients from 1 July:
- We will be prohibited from showing you results on patients as they look in 'real life'. So this means no more patient journey photoshoots, at least not in the format we are used to. We are limited to publishing clinical before and after photos only.. so it's lucky they are one of our strengths with so many happy patients willing to share their outcomes!
- All cosmetic patients must have a GP referral to see Dr Moncrieff. While our medical patients have always required this to be eligible for a Medicare rebate and health fund coverage, we now need a GP referral even if there is no chance of a Medicare rebate.
- All cosmetic patients must have a psychological assessment to determine suitability for surgery. This will generally be performed in our clinic by one of our Registered Nurses.
- Two consultations will be mandatory before surgery. We have always done this for all surgical patients, as we believe this is a good thing to ensure all questions are answered, but please understand we have to be strict if you are seeking to change a consultation date if you are hoping for a particular surgery date!
- All doctors are required to put more information on their marketing including more medical jargon, actual professional titles, medical registration details and a disclaimer on risks and second opinions. So if the blurbs on a social media post seem extra long - you know why!
What should patients do?
- Always look for a Specialist Plastic Surgeon - they should be even easier to spot now as their marketing needs to make this clearer
- Check out the before and after photos with a critical eye - we pride ourselves on high-quality clinical images and believe all photos should be 'like-with-like' comparisons with proper lighting, backgrounds etc. to help you understand their possible outcomes from surgery.
- Be prepared for a little extra work on the surgical journey - you will need a GP referral for all surgery and if it looks like your procedure will be considered, 'cosmetic' expect to spend a little longer on the day of your consultation completing the extra steps such as the psychological assessment.
- As it will be harder to see what surgical results look like in 'real life' so in clothes or swimmers, you may like to join one of the forums on Facebook for advice about the surgical process as it will be harder to find posts from actual patients on public social media pages. An example of one large forum is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PlasticSurgeryHub
- And remember none of the rules stopping us sharing your experience apply to you. So if you are happy to share your experience with the world or just a few trusted friends, then you can do so. Just understand we can’t reshare your photos on our social media.
Amber Moncrieff, Director of Hunter Plastic Surgery
Amber is a lawyer with an MBA who established Hunter Plastic Surgery with her husband Dr Nicholas Moncrieff in 2009. She is a multi-award winning business person, and has accepted 24 awards for herself and the team over the years running the clinic.
Amber and Dr Moncrieff actively support a number of local, national and international charities.
Amber is also a mum of 3 school aged boys and a regular volunteer supporting their school and sporting pursuits!
More about Amber is available here.