New study reveals confusion about medical practitioners

A new study from surgeon review site, RealSelf, has revealed many women in the U.S. remain confused about regulation and who is qualified to perform surgical procedures such as breast augmentation – a lack of understanding that is unfortunately mimicked in Australia.

The study has helped to highlight some of the common misconceptions patients have about medical practitioners and why it is hugely important to do your research before considering any plastic or cosmetic surgery procedure.

RealSelf Study 2

In Australia, many patients do not know there is a significant difference between a ‘cosmetic surgeon’ (a self-described unofficial title) and a fully accredited Specialist Plastic Surgeon.

‘Cosmetic surgeons’

At the end of medical school, a doctor holds a basic medical degree and can use the post-nominal letters of MBBS. Alarmingly, it is at this stage that any doctor can also refer to themselves as a ‘cosmetic surgeon’ without any specialised training and/or certification to perform invasive procedures.

Specialist Plastic Surgeons

Following medical school, Specialist Plastic Surgeons also complete an additional 8 to 10 years of surgical training and fellowships through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, with at least 5 years of specialist postgraduate training.

This results in them also having the initials FRACS (PLAS) after their name, are recognised in the specialty of plastic surgery by the Medical Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and are accredited to perform invasive cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

Specialist Plastic Surgeons may then apply to be a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons – the peak representing body in Australia for plastic surgery.

Due to legal loopholes in the Australian health system, the Commonwealth Government continues to allow ‘cosmetic surgeons’ to put patients’ lives at risk.

To protect yourself and minimise the risks, it is important to do your research and find an accredited Specialist Plastic Surgeon to help you with your surgical journey.


Find out more about the difference between a ‘cosmetic surgeon’ and a Specialist Plastic Surgeon here.

To discuss your surgical options with one of our Specialist Plastic Surgeons, click here.

*The term ‘cosmetic surgeon’ is not formally recognised as an official title by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).