URGENT CALL FOR INCREASED REGULATION OF COSMETIC PROCEDURES
Almost 5 years ago, in February 2017, I posted an article about the rising numbers of Australians undergoing cosmetic procedures, both here in Australia and overseas, and the concerning frequency of poor outcomes, many patients being left with not only permanent scarring and disfigurement but also emotional distress, anxiety and loss of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Since then, cosmetic surgery has established itself as a multi-million dollar entrepreneurial industry.
Lindbloms Lawyers have continued to represent clients with cosmetic procedures gone wrong, including poorly managed infections in breast reduction surgeries, inappropriate surgical techniques being used, overly aggressive liposuction resulting in the need for more surgery, to even incorrect size implants being inserted or the procedure being performed on the wrong limb.
However the majority of matters is simply the surgery being performed being beyond the capabilities and skill of a cosmetic surgeon.
Despite the introduction in 2016 of Guidelines regarding the performance of cosmetic surgical and medical procedures by the Medical Board of Australia to protect consumers, there continues to be alarming reports of medical practitioners who aggressively promote their services via social media, place profit over safety and who perform surgery which is beyond their level of expertise, leading to devastating consequences for their patients.
In response to concerns about advertising for cosmetic procedures, the Australian Lawyers Alliance, (ALA) issued a policy document in November 2021, calling for regulation of advertising of cosmetic procedures (surgical or non-surgical), including:
- to make advertising of such procedures to persons under 18 years unlawful, including social media advertising;
- for the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority, (AHPRA) to take a more proactive approach in identifying practitioners who are potentially breaching the advertising regulations, without the necessity for a complaint to be made first;
- AHPRA to develop clear and comprehensive guidelines for practitioners and the public in respect of advertising cosmetic procedures;
- It be made mandatory for advertisements to include the practitioner’s qualifications, and in particular, to specify whether they are a specialist plastic surgeon or not.
In December 2021, AHPRA and the Medical Board of Australia announced an external review into safety issues in the cosmetic procedures industry, to be led by the former Queensland Health Ombudsman, Andrew Brown.
Additionally, there will be national consultation on changing the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to protect the title of ‘surgeon’ i.e. to limit the circumstances in which it may be used, in contrast to the current situation where a registered health practitioner can call themselves a surgeon, regardless of whether they have had specific surgical training or not.
Hopefully the above measures will see an improvement in safety for future cosmetic procedure patients.
If you have had a bad outcome from cosmetic surgery, we may be able to help you.
 The ALA is a not-for-profit national association of lawyers, academics and other professionals established for the benefit of the community, dedicated to protecting and promoting justice, freedom and the rights of he individual.