Dr Moncrieff has addressed the serious issue of the need for additional regulation, enforcement and patient awareness in the cosmetic surgery industry in his opinion piece in the Herald. He is tired of seeing poor results for poorly trained ‘cosmetic surgeons’ and believes the regulators should be doing far more to protect patients.
A copy is here:
Recently announced moves to broaden the regulation of cosmetic surgery practices is positive news for patients. However, enforcement and continued consumer vigilance will be key to better outcomes across the sector.
Patient safety must always be the highest priority. It’s incredible to think this billion dollar industry hasn’t been better regulated until now. Three main areas demonstrate where the proposed regulations have hit the mark and where they have missed.
Firstly, under the state government’s Private Health Facilities Act, the tougher laws will affect cosmetic centres carrying out common procedures including breast augmentations, tummy tucks, liposuction and facial implants. These long overdue reforms mean their patients will be afforded the same protections as those having any other surgical procedures. Recent media reports raised serious concerns about the safety of patients in ‘cheap’ Sydney clinics who were being administered high volume local anaesthesia at unlicensed premises.
For many years the main industry body for plastic surgeons, the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), has advocated for tighter regulation around cosmetic surgery procedures which I further supported in my submission to the Medical Board of Australia’s review last year. Time will tell if action is actually taken should the new rules be breached, as a law without sanction might make us all feel good, but it does nothing to protect patients long term.
The second area of promised increased protections was delivered in the Medical Board’s recent report. These include plans to introduce a ‘cooling off’ period.
Our practice has a long-standing policy of not allowing patients to book cosmetic surgery on the day of their consultation. This additional waiting period gives patients time to quietly reflect, review all information provided and allow for more discussion around the impact such surgery may have on their lifestyles and families. While the wait is sometimes unappreciated by eager patients, time to cool off does allow for greater understanding and assurance about exactly what to expect before, during and after a procedure.
Again, will the regulators be resourced to enforce this reform?
The third area is where the new regulations have failed and centres on not limiting the term ‘cosmetic surgeon’ to those who have actually trained as specialists. Most people are shocked to discover anyone with a medical degree can claim this title despite having very little surgical knowledge or skill. Plastic surgeons however must have a minimum of five years additional training after their medical degrees and general surgical training to be a qualified specialist plastic surgeon with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
Moreover, there are others in the industry who falsely claim to be ‘plastic surgeons’ which is a regulated term with most specialists having at least 15 years’ experience behind them. Despite official complaints by several industry bodies, regulators have failed to stop this clearly misleading and unlawful conduct.
Ultimately, patients seeking cosmetic or plastic surgery must take matters into their own hands. Assume the industry regulations will help keep you safe, but ultimately the choice of surgeon and facility is yours. GPs are a good place to start for advice, but also consider searching the register of specialist plastic surgeons on the ASPS website.
Read the full article online here.