National reforms issued by the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) and the Australian Health Regulation Agency (Ahpra), will come into effect on 1 July 2023, with new guidelines in relation to the performance of cosmetic surgeries.

A copy of the guidelines can be accessed here.

One of the guidelines includes that patients wanting to undergo cosmetic surgery (e.g. breast augmentation surgery) will need a referral from a GP before seeing a cosmetic surgeon.

However, as reported by the ABC, not everyone is happy with the changes. Psychologist, Associate Professor Gemma Sharp, has commented that when it comes to speaking with patients wanting to undergo cosmetic surgery, “what you will tend to ask first is motivations for seeking the procedure…I think this is a great step in the right direction for securing people’s psychological safety.”

Dr Anne Tonkin, Chair, Medical Board of Australia says that “cosmetic surgery is surgery – it’s therefore serious…It’s really important that they have a chance to discuss with an independent GP, why they’re looking to have cosmetic surgery, whether its safe for them, given what the GP knows about them in terms of their past medical history.” She continues, “we believe that everybody deserves the best possible care…we think the GP referral will support better patient safety.”

On the other hand, Associate Professor Nicola Dean, President, Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, has stated in relation to the rules that “what does work is to have a long experience of patient selection and discussions with patients and the formal and ethical surgical training program that we go through to become specialist surgeons.”

Offering opinion from the perspective of GPs, Professor Charlotte Hespe, Chair, New South Wales and ACT Royal Australian College of GPs, says that “I actually think it’s a great idea that people who want to have cosmetic surgery have a very good understanding about what it is that they actually want to achieve, how much its going to affect them, and the sorts of risks and benefits for them as an individual.” However, she continues, “we’re being asked, yet again, to be the gatekeeper for part of our health system that has not been going very well…general practice is really stretched at the moment.”

The ABC’s report can be accessed here.

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If you or anyone you know has suffered as a result of a cosmetic surgery gone wrong, please contact our medical negligence team on 13 43 63.

At Turner Freeman, we have specialist medical negligence lawyers who will assess your case and provide personalised advice regarding your legal entitlements. Our medical negligence lawyers are located across NSW including in our offices in SydneyParramattaWollongongNewcastle and Toronto.