What is the difference between a Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon?
Qualified Plastic Surgeons like Dr Moncrieff have had to complete not only their medical degrees, but an additional 7-10 years in post graduate surgical training. Two to five of these years are usually spent in general surgical training and a further four years in specialty plastic and cosmetic surgery training. The level of plastic surgery training in Australia is world class. This training culminates in a qualification called the Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) in Plastic Surgery.
Your safeguard is to look for a fully qualified Plastic Surgeon as reflected by the letters FRACS (Plast Surg) under a doctor’s name and check that they are affiliated with the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). These titles and memberships are only available to fully qualified Plastic Surgeons who have undergone many years of training and exams in surgery beyond the basic medical school training.
By way of contrast, those calling themselves cosmetic surgeons only have to have a basic medical degree. There is no legal requirement for them to train in surgery and while many of these people are good doctors, potential patients should understand they have not done the training and passed the rigorous practical and theoretical examinations required to be entitled to the title of Plastic Surgeon.
Potential patients should always request the credentials of any surgeon, their specialities and all risks and rehabilitation associated with the type of procedure you’re after.
What makes members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons unique?
- Members are bona fide specialist Plastic Surgeons who are in full-time plastic surgery practice.
- Members have undertaken a minimum of 12 years education and training.
- Members have undertaken at least 7 years of training after the completion of medical school.
- The Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery training program requires a minimum of 5 years specialist Surgical Education and Training.
- Members hold a Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS Plast) or its equivalent.
- The Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) is an award, fully accredited by the Australian Medical Council which is the only body authorised by the Commonwealth Government to certify all medical training.
- ASPS is authorised by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons to administer post graduate surgical training programs for the specialty of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
- ASPS promotes research in the specialty of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
- Medicare Australia recognises all ASPS members as specialist Plastic Surgeons.
(this response can be found on the ASPS website – www.plasticsurgery.org.au)
How can I check if my doctor is registered in Australia?
You should check that any doctor you are considering is registered to practice in Australia by searching the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s register here. You should particularly look to see if the doctor has any conditions or reprimands in relation to their practice which may impact on your proposed procedure or relationship with them.
How can I choose a new health fund?
Some patients find that their current health fund does not offer the coverage they expect given the premiums they pay. While we don’t give specific advice on funds, because everyone’s situation is different, we can say that as a general rule, funds that are listed on the stock exchange have a legal obligation to maximise profits for shareholders, who are generally not those people paying premiums. Other funds run for the benefit of members, including industry based funds, tend to offer higher rebates across a broader range of procedures. For an independent assessment of your options, you might like to visit the government’s private health website which features a comparison tool.