Medical Board of Australia - Doctors on notice as cosmetic surgery practice and advertising changes come into effect
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Doctors on notice as cosmetic surgery practice and advertising changes come into effect

03 Jul 2023

Doctors who perform cosmetic surgery must abide by new rules or answer to the regulator as significant safety reforms come into effect.

From 1 July, new safety measures aim to ensure the public will be better protected against botched surgery. A crackdown on advertising, including on social media, will make sure doctors cannot make dubious and misleading claims about the benefits of cosmetic surgery, or downplay its risks. 

The updates, announced in April, are part of a broader package of reforms the Medical Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) have been rolling out to make cosmetic surgery safer.

MBA Board Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin AO, said almost all doctors practised safely, however these reforms ensured any outliers would be forced to put their patients’ interests at the centre of everything they do.

‘Doctors are committed to patient safety, but too many people have been left emotionally and physically scarred after cosmetic surgery,’ Dr Tonkin said.

‘We will be using our regulatory powers to lift safety in this sector. We know the vast majority of doctors welcome these measures and want to make sure they are putting their patients’ safety first.’

Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said any practitioners ignoring the new rules will face tough action. 

‘We are focused on cleaning up this sector. We’re spelling out what safe practise and responsible advertising looks like,’ Mr Fletcher said.

‘We will not hesitate to use our regulatory powers to the full on anyone who tries to find loopholes to avoid these changes and jeopardises patient safety.’

All practitioners have been made aware of their new obligations and Ahpra and the Board will be monitoring where necessary to ensure practitioners are doing the right thing. This includes practitioners and organisations who have been identified in Ahpra’s ongoing advertising audit. A new resource which gives visual examples of the most significant advertising changes, has also been widely shared.

The updated practice guidelines and new advertising guidelines are on the MBA website.

Other reforms underway

Alongside the 16 recommendations Ahpra and the Board are implementing following last year’s independent review, there are other pieces of work being done to support greater safety in this sector.

This includes:

  •  Area of practice endorsement for cosmetic surgery– new cosmetic surgery accreditation standards have been set by the Australian Medical Council. Education providers can now apply for accreditation of their training program 
  • Protecting the title ‘surgeon’ – the amendment bill which will change the law in relation to who can use the title ‘surgeon’ is currently before the Queensland Parliament.

Full updates on our work to make cosmetic surgery safer can be found on our Cosmetic Surgery Hub

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Page reviewed 3/07/2023