Cosmetic Surgeon or Plastic Surgeon – What’s the difference?

Australia’s Plastic Surgery industry is one of the best in the world. A plastic surgeon has to meet a lot of Government regulations to ensure you can trust that high standards of patient safety and care are maintained. These extensive rules cover not just the standard of the practice, but the doctors’ training and experience too.

More and more people are now considering how different treatments and procedures can help them look and feel their best. As a result, there are more medical professionals providing services. This risks confusion about the level of training that you can expect your doctor to have completed.

The difference between a “cosmetic surgeon” and a “plastic surgeon” is one source of confusion. Both of these roles are important. Many people, however, don’t realise that there is a difference between them.

What is a Plastic Surgeon?

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is one of nine specialty areas recognised by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). RACS is a not-for-profit organisation that makes sure Australia and New Zealand have high surgical standards. They also provide specialist surgical training.

Not just any doctor can call themselves a “Plastic Surgeon” because it is an Australian Government accredited title. Plastic Surgeons must firstly undergo surgical training. They then have to earn a place in the competitive Plastic Surgery training programme. This consists of five years of studying and training dedicated to plastic surgery. They are also supervised by qualified and experienced Plastic Surgeons in this time. In addition to this, they must pass three training exams to get the qualification “Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons”, or FRACS.

Plastic Surgeons are also required to continue to study throughout their career through a Professional Development programme. They don’t get to keep their qualification if they don’t maintain this. This makes sure that medical standards are maintained and surgeons are across the latest advances.

What is a Cosmetic Surgeon?

Any doctor with a medical degree is allowed to perform surgery in Australia. There are no requirements that they have completed specialist surgical training. “Cosmetic Surgery” is not a recognised medical specialty. This means that titles such as “Cosmetic Surgeon”, “Cosmetic Doctor”, and “Cosmetic Physician” don’t require the extensive specialised training that a Plastic Surgeon has completed.

Many Cosmetic Surgeons are members of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgeons. You might see the letters FACCS after their name if this is the case. This is not currently a government accredited organisation. Make sure you don’t confuse this with FRACS, the Plastic Surgery qualification.

Cosmetic Surgeons are of course still important, especially for non-surgical procedures. Their focus has previously been on minor, non-invasive procedures. Some Cosmetic Surgeons however are now performing procedures that should only be undertaken by a qualified Plastic Surgeon.

 Above all…

Research your doctor’s credentials when you’re considering plastic surgery. Make sure that they are qualified to perform your procedure! A Cosmetic Surgeon may be fine to perform some non-surgical procedures. You’ll want a Plastic Surgeon for major surgical procedures.

Cosmetic Surgeon or Plastic Surgeon – understanding the difference

Your surgeon should be fully qualified, experienced and have a proven record of performing the procedure that you are getting. Qualified surgeons will have their FRACS qualification advertised – make sure you can find it!

Australia has world-class plastic surgery training and a highly regulated industry. This is vital to making sure that patient safety is the number one priority. Choosing a qualified Plastic Surgeon is the only way to make sure you are protected by these high standards! Don’t be tempted by the cheaper option! Plastic surgery procedures are serious and you want to make sure that your surgeon is properly qualified and specialises in the field.

Our Surgeons:

Dr Mark Vucak

Dr Ian Tassan

Dr Malcolm Linsell

Dr Tristan de Chalain