FAQs - Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who perform cosmetic medical and surgical procedures

The Guidelines took effect on 1 October 2016. All registered medical practitioners who provide cosmetic medical and surgical procedures must comply with them from this date.

The Guidelines apply to all registered medical practitioners who provide cosmetic medical and surgical procedures.

The Medical Board only regulates medical practitioners. The guidelines do not apply to other registered health practitioners or to unregistered providers of cosmetic procedures.

Cosmetic medical and surgical procedures are:

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 or boosting the patient’s self-esteem.

Major cosmetic medical and surgical procedures (‘cosmetic surgery’) involve cutting beneath the skin. Examples include: breast augmentation, breast reduction, rhinoplasty, surgical face-lifts and liposuction.

Minor (non-surgical) cosmetic medical procedures do not involve cutting beneath the skin, but may involve piercing the skin. Examples include: non-surgical cosmetic varicose vein treatment, laser skin treatments, use of CO2 lasers to cut the skin, mole removal for purposes of appearance, laser hair removal, dermabrasion, chemical peels, injections, microsclerotherapy and hair replacement therapy.

Yes, however, note that sections of the Guidelines apply differently to major and minor procedures.

Yes, when plastic surgery is performed for cosmetic reasons. The medical specialty of plastic surgery includes both cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery.

No. These Guidelines do not apply to reconstructive surgery. Reconstructive surgery differs from cosmetic surgery as, while it incorporates aesthetic techniques, it restores form and function as well as normality of appearance.

No, but they give young patients time to think before they have a procedure. See Section 3. The Guidelines differentiate between major and minor procedures for under 18s and require:

  • a three month cooling off period before major procedures for all under 18s and a mandatory evaluation by a registered general practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist 
  • a seven day cooling off period before minor procedures for all under 18s, and when clinically indicated, evaluation by a registered general practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist

The Guidelines do not specify where cosmetic procedures can be provided, but Section 11 of the Guidelines specifies the responsibilities of the medical practitioner in relation to the facility where the cosmetic medical or surgical procedure is performed.

The Guidelines specify the minimum time for the cooling-off period. The duration of the cooling off period should reflect the nature of the procedure and the associated risks. There are different requirements for adults and patients under 18.

Adults:

There should be a cooling off period of at least seven days between an adult patient giving informed consent and a major procedure.

There is no minimum cooling off period for adults having a minor procedure, but the medical practitioner may recommend a cooling off period for some adult patients before a minor procedure.

Under 18s:

There must be a cooling off period of at least three months before a major procedure, and evaluation by a general practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist is mandatory.

There must be a cooling off period of at least seven days before a minor procedure and evaluation by a general practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist if clinically indicated.

The Guidelines do not specify a cooling off period for an adult seeking a minor procedure. The medical practitioner providing the procedure may recommend a cooling off period for some adult patients before a minor procedure.

Yes. There must be a minimum seven day cooling off period for patients under 18 seeking a minor procedure.

Adult patients should be referred for evaluation if there are indications that the patient has significant underlying psychological problems which may make them an unsuitable candidate for the procedure.

Referral must be to a registered practitioner who works independently of the medical practitioner who will perform the procedure. Referral must be to a registered:

  • psychologist, or 
  • psychiatrist, or 
  • general practitioner who does not provide cosmetic procedures.

All patients under the age of 18 seeking a major procedure must be referred for evaluation to identify any underlying psychological problems which may make them an unsuitable candidate for the procedure. Referral must be to a registered practitioner who works independently of the medical practitioner who will perform the procedure. Referral must be to a registered:

  • psychologist, or 
  • psychiatrist, or 
  • general practitioner who does not provide cosmetic procedures.

Referral for evaluation is not required for patients under the age of 18 who seek minor procedures, unless this is clinically indicated. i.e. if there are indications that the patient has significant underlying psychological problems that may make them an unsuitable candidate for the procedure, the medical practitioner providing the cosmetic procedure must refer the patient for evaluation.

The Guidelines apply to registered medical practitioners who provide minor cosmetic medical procedures, including schedule 4 ‘prescription only’ cosmetic injectables.

Medical practitioners who provide cosmetic injectables must know and comply with the requirements of their state or territory drugs and poisons (or equivalent) legislation for schedule 4 (prescription only) cosmetic injectables.

The Guidelines set out additional responsibilities for medical practitioners in relation to prescribing and administering schedule 4 (prescription only) cosmetic injectables. These practitioners must not prescribe cosmetic injectables unless they have had a consultation with the patient. The consultation can be in person or by video. See Section 7 of the Guidelines.

Yes, a medical practitioner can prescribe a schedule 4 ‘prescription only’ cosmetic injectable after a video consultation, for example, using a video link, Skype, FaceTime, etc.

Further guidance is available in the Board’s Guidelines Technology-based patient consultations available on the Codes, Guidelines and Policies page.

No. Remote prescribing of cosmetic injectables by phone or email (or equivalent) is not permitted. Medical practitioners must not prescribe schedule 4 (prescription only) cosmetic injectables unless they have had a consultation with the patient, either in person or by video.

Yes, a medical practitioner should not offer financing schemes to patients seeking major or minor cosmetic procedures.

Yes, medical practitioners can provide information on their website about funding options and the payment methods that they accept. This is not considered to be 'offering a finance scheme'.

The Medical Board has published an Information sheet with guidance on providing information about payment methods. 

Yes, a medical practitioner can offer a patient the option to pay for their procedure in regular instalment payments.

Section 12 specifies the responsibilities of the medical practitioner in relation to financial arrangements:

A medical practitioner should not offer financing schemes to patients (other than credit card facilities), either directly or through a third party, such as loans or commercial payment plans, as part of the cosmetic medical or surgical services. 

Accepting payment from  patient in instalments is not considered to be a financing scheme if there is no third party involved and there is no formal, commercial element to the arrangement.

The Board has also published an Information sheet.

No, a medical practitioner should not promote financing schemes to patients, either directly or through a third party, such as loans or commercial payment plans, as part of the cosmetic medical or surgical services. Promotion includes:

  • hyperlinks or website addresses of finance providers
  • recommending one or more finance providers or products (beyond listing payment methods and company names)
  • listing features or benefits of a particular payment method, e.g 'simple application, flexible terms'
  • credit approval times, e.g '3-minute approval'
  • any 'Apply now' option or button.

Section 12 of the Guidelines specifies the responsibilities of the medical practitioner in relation to financial arrangements and the Board has published an Information sheet.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 19/09/2016