Plastic surgery is a recognised medical specialty (it is actually properly referred to as Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery). As a specialty it is similar in status to general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, neurosurgery etc. Becoming a specialist in surgery requires many years of post-graduate education and examinations and it is recognised in Australia by the award of FRACS (Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons).
Cosmetic surgery, on the other hand, is not a recognised surgical specialty. In fact, the words “cosmetic” and “surgery” do not sit well together. The word “cosmetic” strongly relates to appearance and has other connotations of a simplistic, covering up and temporary nature. The word “surgery”, on the other hand, by its very nature, is always invasive and therefore always associated with risk. It is therefore usually reserved for use when other treatments are inappropriate or have failed. Cosmetic surgery is not covered by Medicare and the Taxation Department does not view it as being medically necessary and therefore it is not exempt from GST.
In our experience, individuals rarely submit to surgery simply to alter appearance. It is usually because they have become very self-conscious and lacking in the confidence that they require to function normally in society. As plastic and reconstructive surgeons, we recognise the strong desire of our patients to look normal rather than different. This bears little relationship to the concept of “beauty” which is ill defined and varies according to age, sex and race.
At Avenue Plastic Surgery we prefer the name “aesthetic surgery” to describe surgery performed not just to alter appearance but to improve the confidence and wellbeing of our patients. This is best described by the following quote from the Father of Modern Plastic Surgery – Gaspare Tagliacozzi:-
“We restore, rebuild and make whole
Those parts which nature hath given,
But which fortune has taken away.
Not so much that it may delight the eye,
But that it may buoy up the spirit,
And help the mind of the afflicted.”
Due to our concern for the welfare of patients requiring aesthetic surgery, and in recognition that training in aesthetic surgery does not occur in the public health system, we, at Avenue Plastic Surgery, have resolved to use our experience, skills and resources to provide advanced training in aesthetic surgery and to train and nurture surgeons in the art, science and practice of aesthetic surgery.