Cosmetic medical and surgical procedures are defined as 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.

 The Guidelines come into effect on 1 October 2016.

 Key principles

 The key elements of the new guidance are: -

  • The patient’s first consultation should be with the medical practitioner who will perform the procedure or another registered health practitioner who works with the medical practitioner who will perform the procedure.
  • If the first consultation is with another registered health practitioner, the patient should have a consultation with the medical practitioner who will perform the procedure, before scheduling the procedure.
  • The patient should be referred for evaluation to a psychologist, psychiatrist or general practitioner, who works independently of the medical practitioner who will perform the procedure, if there are indications that the patient has significant underlying psychological problems which may make them an unsuitable candidate for the procedure.
  • Other than for minor procedures that do not involve cutting beneath the skin, there should be a cooling off period of at least seven days between the patient giving informed consent and the procedure.
  • A medical practitioner should decline to perform a cosmetic procedure if they believe that it is not in the best interests of the patient.
  • Before any major procedure, all patients under the age of 18 must be referred for evaluation to a psychologist, psychiatrist or general practitioner, who works independently of the medical practitioner who will perform the procedure, to identify any significant underlying psychological problems which may make them an unsuitable candidate for the procedure.
  • For the patient under the age of 18, there must be a cooling off period between the informed consent and the procedure being performed:

             -  for minor procedures, the cooling off period must be a minimum of seven days

             -  for major procedures, the cooling off period must be a minimum of three months.

  • Informed consent must be obtained by the medical practitioner who will perform the procedure.
  • Other than for minor procedures, informed consent should be obtained in a pre-procedure consultation at least seven days before the day of the procedure and reconfirmed on the day of the procedure and documented appropriately.
  • Advertising material, including practice and practitioner websites, must comply with the Board’s Guidelines for advertising of regulated health services, the current Therapeutic Goods Advertising (TGA) Code, any TGA guidance on advertising cosmetic injections and the advertising requirements of section 133 of the National Law.
  • Advertising content and patient information material should not glamorise procedures, minimise the complexity of a procedure, overstate results or imply patients can achieve outcomes that are not realistic.
  • Medical practitioners should not offer patients additional products or services that could act as an incentive to treatment.

Implications

The Guidelines provide evidence of what constitutes appropriate professional conduct or practice for a medical practitioner providing cosmetic medical and surgical procedures. Non-compliance with the Guidelines could be used by the Medical Board to sanction medical practitioners in disciplinary proceedings. Medical practitioners should therefore review their existing practices and procedures to ensure that their practices reflect the principles of the new Guidelines.

The Guidelines can be found here.