This resource has been developed to help medical practitioners to comply with the Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who advertise cosmetic surgery (cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines). It does not represent all the requirements and should be read in conjunction with the cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines and the Guidelines on advertising a regulated health service (the broader advertising guidelines).
A visual examples guide PDF has also been developed to help practitioners comply with the cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines. This guide has a content warning as it contains sensitive images.
The cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines apply to all forms of advertising of cosmetic surgery. This includes advertising in printed and electronic communications, as well as advertising on social media. Content on public and private social media profiles or groups that relate to a regulated health service may constitute advertising under the National Law. This includes comments by practitioners or other posted content.
The cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines apply to cosmetic surgery.
Cosmetic surgery is defined as operations that involve cutting beneath the skin and which 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. Examples include breast augmentation, abdominoplasty, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, surgical face lifts, cosmetic genital surgery and liposuction and fat transfer.
Gender affirmation surgery is not considered cosmetic surgery.
The cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines do not apply to non-surgical cosmetic procedures.
No. The cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines do not apply to non-surgical cosmetic procedures.
The Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service (the broader advertising guidelines) apply to advertising of cosmetic procedures by all advertisers of a regulated health service.
Medical practitioners advertising cosmetic procedures must also comply with:
Non-surgical cosmetic procedures, Section 12, Advertising and Marketing, in the Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who perform cosmetic surgery and procedures, states:
Advertising should not glamorise cosmetic procedures, minimise the complexity of a procedure, overstate results or imply patients can achieve outcomes that are not realistic.
From 1 July 2023, it is expected that cosmetic surgery advertising will comply with the Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who advertise cosmetic surgery (cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines).
Medical practitioners advertising cosmetic surgery need to review all their existing advertising, including their website and their social media accounts to make sure that from 1 July 2023 all advertising (including past posts) complies with the new cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines.
In order to comply with the cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines, medical practitioners may need to amend or remove content that does not comply and/or add content to ensure all the requirements for information on registration details, professional memberships, risks, recovery outcomes, and relevant warnings outlined in the cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines is included.
No. Testimonials are not permitted in any advertising.
A testimonial is a positive recommendation or statement about a clinical aspect of a regulated health service, whether expressed by a patient, a social media influencer or any other person.
In advertising of cosmetic surgery, any statement or recommendation about the experience of, reason for, or outcome of cosmetic surgery, or the skills or experience of the medical practitioner would be considered a reference to a clinical aspect of cosmetic surgery, and therefore is considered a testimonial. This is because the dominant purpose of cosmetic surgery is a revision or change to appearance.
Comments that do not refer to clinical aspects of a regulated health service (e.g. customer service) are not considered testimonials.
Simply put, by not including them in any of your advertising.
If a social media platform is used to promote a regulated health service, such as a clinic’s Facebook page, it is considered advertising and must not include testimonials or purported testimonials.
Not all social media sites allow for editing or removal of testimonials. However, the clinic business owner or practitioner (whoever has control over the social media) is still responsible for ensuring compliance with the prohibition on testimonials. This may be achieved by disabling the reviews/testimonials functions.
Specific tips to help make sure your advertising is compliant with the requirements around testimonials include:
Yes. Social media can be used for advertising cosmetic surgery as long as you comply with the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service, and from 1 July 2023, the Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who advertise cosmetic surgery.
Any of the below would be considered advertising:
For more information about social media see the Ahpra and National Boards’ guidance on social media.
It may not be possible to provide full details about risks or potential risks of cosmetic surgery. In this case the advertising should direct the public to the location of the information about risks or potential risks, such as through a link or directions to the section of the medical practitioner’s website that contains the information.
Medical practitioners must not provide or offer to provide free or discounted surgery to prospective patients, including social media influencers, for promotion of cosmetic surgery.
Medical practitioners or other advertisers who enter into any arrangements with social media ‘influencers’, ‘ambassadors’, content creators or similar individuals are responsible for the advertising content that is delivered by these individuals and must ensure that any advertising produced complies with the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service, and from 1 July 2023, the Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who advertise cosmetic surgery.
No. Ahpra and the Medical Board cannot give you advice or an opinion about advertising and cannot check or pre-approve your advertising.
This is because as statutory regulators our role is to enforce the law not to provide legal advice to advertisers about how to advertise.
However, the Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who advertise cosmetic surgery are intended to support you to comply with your obligations by making expectations clearer and providing examples of unacceptable advertising.
If you need advice about whether your advertising complies with the National Law, you may wish to seek advice from your professional association, an independent legal adviser or indemnity insurer.
From 1 July 2023, the Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who advertise cosmetic surgery require that single images must not be used in cosmetic surgery advertising when the use of the image is likely to give the impression that it represents the outcome of a surgery.
‘Before and after’ images must:
There is also more guidance in the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service for the requirements for ‘before and after’ images.
No. Advertising of cosmetic surgery must not use incentives or inducements that would encourage people to have cosmetic surgery. Examples of inappropriate incentives or inducements include, but are not limited to:
Any person or organisation can make a complaint to Ahpra if they have concerns about the advertising of a regulated health service. When we receive a complaint, we will review the advertising, complete a risk assessment and take appropriate action to protect the public. See how we manage advertising complaints for more information about the complaints process for breaches of the advertising requirements.
As cosmetic surgery is considered high risk, we are also now conducting proactive audits of cosmetic surgery advertising. On 26 October 2022, we published the Cosmetic surgery advertising obligations under the National Law which sets out the current requirements for cosmetic surgery advertising. From 1 July 2023 medical practitioners will be required to comply with the Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who advertise cosmetic surgery and their cosmetic surgery advertising will be audited against the new guidelines.