Dentists are performing invasive cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation due to a ”huge gap” in a legal system that has left patients seriously harmed, the peak body of plastic surgeons has warned.
Patients have been left confused by a system that allows anyone with a basic medical degree and registered as a doctor able to call themselves a ”cosmetic surgeon”.
This article in The Age newspaper is an important one for cosmetic surgery patients. It raises questions that every patient should consider before they have surgery. Why is the federal government not taking action? Why are medical insurers covering doctors who are operating outside of the scope of their training? Why is the Board not restricting such practices? This is not about competition between doctors – this is, and always will be, an issue about public safety and the patient’s right to know who is qualified to perform their surgery and who isn’t.
If every doctor can be a cosmetic surgeon, then why do we have a specialist training program at all? Why are they not performing other surgical procedures, such as cardiac surgery or neurosurgery? Why did they choose cosmetic surgery? Why – indeed. A cosmetic surgery patient’s safety is as important as any other patient, such as a cardiac patient. Both have their lives in the hands of their surgeons.
This issue is an old one and raises more questions than answers. It is not a good enough defence by the Australian College of Cosmetic Surgeons to retaliate against the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons and its Members, who have a strict code of ethics themselves, to justify their practices. As it stands today, the fact remains – Plastic Surgeons are recognised by the government (through the Australian Medical Council) to perform plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic Surgeons are not similarly recognised. Plastic Surgeons are credentialled to work in public and private hospitals. Most cosmetic surgeons are not credentialled to practise in hospitals outside the scope of their original specialty, if at all.
The government must protect public safety. It has a responsibility to educate and inform patients about the qualifications it recognises and explain the difference in plain English. As consumers, you have the right to be informed.