New AHPRA Regulations for Cosmetic Surgery
The Australian Health Regulatory Agency (AHPRA) and the Medical Board of Australia are implementing new regulations to govern both practice and advertising by medical practitioners for cosmetic surgery.
These guidelines are being put in place to protect the patients by setting and maintaining standards of medical practice and ensuring professional standards for advertising.
Cosmetic surgery is defined as operations, and other procedures that revise or change the appearance, colour, texture, structure, or position of normal bodily features with the dominant purpose of achieving what the patient perceives to be a more desirable appearance.
Cosmetic surgery includes procedures, such as breast augmentation, surgical facelifts, rhinoplasty, liposuction, and many others.
Procedures which are performed for a medical reason, and attract a Medicare benefits item number, such as breast reduction and abdominoplasty when the rectus to verification exists are not considered cosmetic surgery.
The distinctions can be confusing but Plastic Surgeons will guide patients as to whether or not the surgery they are considering is considered cosmetic surgery.
New requirements for practice;
- All patients seeking cosmetic surgery, must have a referral, preferably from their current GP, and if that is not possible, from another GP or specialist medical practitioner
- Patients must be formally screened, by the practitioner, for underlying psychological conditions, such as body dysmorphic disorder, BDD using a validated screening tool
- If screening indicates the patient has significant underlying psychological issues, they must be referred for evaluation by a psychologist, psychiatrist or GP who works independently of the practitioner who will perform the surgery
- At least two preoperative consultations are required prior to proceeding with cosmetic surgery
- Consent cannot be signed at the first consultation and must be signed after an in-person consultation has occurred
- A 7-day cooling off period is required following the second consultation before surgery can be booked or a deposit paid
- Increased information and disclosures regarding qualifications, informed financial consent, collection and storage of photographs and videos
Summary of new requirements for advertising;
- Inclusion of clear and unambiguous information about qualifications, type of medical registration and medical registration number
- Use of medical terminology and avoidance of terms that may create unrealistic expectations or are misleading
- Clear information about risks and recovery must be easily found
- No testimonials including displaying of pictures of gifts and cards from patients
- Ban on use of single stylised images (eg stock images) including naked bodies, body parts, black and white images, images of models and celebrities etc
- Specific guidelines for before and after photos
- Videos and images must be used responsibly and not for entertainment – avoidance use of emojis, music, photo montages or images which trivialise cosmetic surgery
- Videos and images must not be sexualised or include gratuitous nudity
- The use of negative body language is banned
- Cosmetic surgery advertising must be identified as adult content
The above is a summary of the guidelines, so for further reading please refer to https://www.medicalboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Policies/FAQ or contact our office for more information