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Australia: Crackdown on cosmetic surgeons without surgical experience

Staff Writer | November 6, 2017
Australian doctors without surgical experience will be banned from referring to themselves as "cosmetic surgeons" under sweeping reforms.
cosmetic surgeons
Cosmetic surgery   The review of cosmetic practices
The federal, state and territory health ministers have agreed to tighten up the "unregulated" industry after cosmetic surgeons were responsible for a series of life-threatening mistakes while operating.

Under current rules, anyone with a medical degree in Australia can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon regardless of surgical experience. The proposed changes would make it so only those with plastic surgery training could use the term.

The review of cosmetic practices was prompted by the death of Sydney woman Jean Huang after a botched breast operation in September.

Following Huang's death, New South Wales (NSW), Queensland and Victoria introduced laws restricting where cosmetic surgery can be performed, a move supported by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

"Sadly, it has taken some tragic, high-profile events for the community to realize that cosmetic surgery is not trivial and patients undergoing cosmetic surgery should be afforded the same protections as patients undergoing any other type of invasive surgery," ASPS President Mark Ashton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday.

"Any surgery, be it cardiac or cosmetic, involves an element of risk and should be taken seriously."

The new rules, being considered by the Medical Board of Australia, would allow health ministers in states and territories to ban the use of the term "cosmetic surgeon" if they saw fit.

Leanne Wells, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Consumer Health Forum, said that the reforms would guarantee patients' a reputable doctor.

"We share the concern of some clinical groups that the rules need to be tightened up. The industry has been left too unregulated for too long," Wells said.

"We can only expect the demand for cosmetic surgery to increase, a fact of 21st century life. But for patient safety, we must have much more stringent standards, accreditation and monitoring of this industry."