Not all cosmetic surgeons are trained as Specialist Plastic Surgeons. In Australia, there are no regulations that dictate what procedures a doctor can perform irrespective of his/her field of training. It is up to each individual hospital to regulate the scope of practice of any particular doctor. As a result, there is a great deal of confusion in the public as other specialists will incorporate the term Plastic surgeon in their title(such as Facial Plastic Surgeon, Breast Oncoplastic surgeon or Oculoplastic surgeon). Only the term “Specialist Plastic Surgeon” title in Australia can only be used by FRACS approved specialist surgeons in the recognised specialty of plastic surgery.
Application into specialty training in Plastic Surgery is highly competitive. It attracts some of the best surgical trainees across the nation. This allows the specialty to select the top candidates in the country each year into the training program. Over the course of the 5 year training program, the trainee is exposed to a wide range of operative procedures along with an intensive tutorial program. Aside from cosmetic surgery, the specialty encompasses a wide range of surgeries including burns, skin cancers, hand and upper limb, organ (face/hands) transplantation, microsurgery, gender reasssignment, craniofacial surgery, paediatric face and hand deformities, and reconstructions of most parts of the human body. The training often involves having to treat some of the hardest reconstructive and cosmetic challenges and as a result they are well taught with a full array of surgical techniques to deal with these problems. At the end of that period, the trainee has to sit an exit written and clinical exam which is recognised as the toughest in the world. Most will also undergo post fellowship training in centers around the world to gain additional experience in their areas of interest.
Being the director of Plastic Surgery training in WA from 2016 to 2021, I can attest to the training and quality of the Plastic Surgeons in this state. Being such a broad specialty, not all Plastic Surgeons will offer the whole spectrum of surgery as most choose to sub-specialise in particular fields in order to maintain excellence in those areas. You can check whether your surgeon is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon at the ASPS website.