The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons welcomes the Minister of Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Mark Butler and his state counterparts’ announcement on the crackdown on cosmetic surgery ‘cowboys’ and the restrictions placed on the title ‘surgeon’.

“We are pleased to see the significant reforms announced by the ministers such as preventing medical practitioners who are not qualified surgeons describing themselves as cosmetic ‘surgeons’. Australians rightly expect all surgical procedures to be performed to the highest possible standards. They expect those carrying out procedures to meet nationally established educational standards, undertake regular training and be registered in an appropriate specialty. Closing this loophole that allowed unscrupulous doctors to take advantage of patients is the right thing to do.

“This is a commendable step that will eliminate the confusion faced by patients and add a layer of safety when it comes to choosing a surgeon. Too often patients undergo surgery under the false assumption about the standard of training of the person carrying out the surgery. These changes will help maintain public confidence in the high standards of our health system,” said Royal Australasian College of Surgeons President Dr Sally Langley. 
The RACS President said limiting surgery to properly accredited facilities was critical to patient safety.

“Acting now is in the best interests of patients that surgical procedures are only undertaken by properly qualified surgeons who have Australian Medical Council (AMC) accreditation and surgery is conducted in facilities that are licensed and properly regulated,” added Dr Langley.

By the time they are accredited, registered specialist surgeons have undertaken a minimum of 12 years medical and surgical education, including at least five years of specialist postgraduate training, and are formally recognised as Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS).

Dr Langley commended the health ministers for banning doctors using patient testimonials for cosmetic surgery including on social media.

““Lifting the ban on testimonials would have simply worsened the exploitation of vulnerable people and we agree with the government’s move to provide better information for patients on the risks and their rights so they can make an informed decision about any treatment. This is something we emphasise in our world-class surgical training.

“We look forward to working with the government, regulators and other stakeholders to make sure that we all put the safety of patients first.” 

The government’s announcement follows Ahpra and the Medical Board’s announcement of an endorsement framework for cosmetic surgery. RACS, ASPS, ASAPS and ASOHNS recently released a statement on the Ahpra and Medical Board’s review on cosmetic surgery, sharing their concerns.


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RACS is the leading advocate for surgical standards, professionalism and surgical education in Australia and New Zealand. The College is a not-for-profit organisation that represents more than 7000 surgeons and 1300 surgical trainees and International Medical Graduates. RACS also supports healthcare and surgical education in the Asia-Pacific region and is a substantial funder of surgical research. There are nine surgical specialties in Australasia being: Cardiothoracic surgery, General surgery, Neurosurgery, Orthopaedic surgery, Otolaryngology Head-and-Neck surgery, Paediatric surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive surgery, Urology and Vascular surgery.