Cosmetic Surgeons v Plastic Surgeons

Cosmetic Surgery is surgery that improves or enhances the appearance of a patient. This can be achieved using either surgical or non-surgical techniques (or both) and can be practised by surgeons from a variety of medical disciplines who have been trained in Cosmetic Surgery with the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgeons (ACCS).

Plastic Surgery, however, is surgery that involves the reconstruction or restoration of a patient's appearance or function of some part of the body that has been affected by trauma, disease or birth defect.

Patients who are contemplating Cosmetic Surgery are generally unaware of the difference between Cosmetic Surgery and Plastic Surgery. As a result patients are of the opinion that a qualification in Plastic Surgery is a guarantee of a Surgeon's experience and competence to perform Cosmetic Surgery. This is not the case.

This misconception has the propensity to mislead patients who are confused when Plastic Surgeon use the terms Plastic and Cosmetic interchangeably. This is often repeated in the media, public forums and advertising and has mislead patients into believing that only Plastic Surgeons are qualified and able to perform Cosmetic Surgery.

The Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery was established in 1999 to train, accredit and certify doctors and surgeons specifically in Cosmetic Surgery. Once a doctor has met and passed the preliminary surgical training and a further 2 years of Cosmetic Surgery training only then are they conferred Surgical Fellowship status of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery. The trainee Cosmetic Surgeons train with experienced and world class Cosmetic Surgeons.

Significantly many of the Fellows of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery are qualified Surgeons in other Surgical specialities and disciplines and undertook the Fellowship training program with the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery in order to perform Cosmetic Surgery.


The public and patients should understand that

  • A degree in Plastic Surgery is not evidence of competency in Cosmetic Surgery
  • The Australasian College of Cosmetics Surgery provides training and experience in Cosmetic Surgery for Cosmetic Surgeons.
  • The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons is not the only "recognised" body with regard to the practice of Cosmetic Surgery.
  • The term Plastic Surgery is not synonymous with Cosmetic Surgery
  • Plastic Surgeon is not synonymous with Cosmetic Surgeon
  • Doctors who are not qualified Plastic Surgeons but who have received Cosmetic Surgery training through ACCS, are able to competently perform Cosmetic Surgery

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