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Why it’s important to know the difference between a Plastic Surgeon and a ‘Cosmetic’ Surgeon.


Medi Makeovers ONLY offers Board Certified Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeons, and although there are many advertised surgeries in Australia from Cosmetic Clinics that claim to be the same as what you’ll get overseas without having to travel abroad – it is definitely NOT the same service. For example, a breast augmentation with Medi Makeovers is performed under a general anaesthetic in an internationally accredited hospital with a Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon. You’ll also stay for two nights in your own private ward room in the hospital and spend a total of 10 nights in Thailand in your choice of luxury accommodation and have multiple follow up appointments with your surgeon before it is safe for you to fly home. The cost for this (including return flights on a premium airline) is approx. $5,500 AUD*. In comparison with cosmetic clinics in Australia who offer breast augmentation surgery for an example price of $5,990 – what you get for your money is A LOT different! With these clinics you will have day surgery under a local anaesthetic/ twilight sedation with a ‘Cosmetic’ Surgeon in a clinic that does not have the same accreditations or safety availabilities as a hospital – meaning that if something goes wrong (which it already has for some women – see 60 Minutes report), you will have to be transported from the clinic to a hospital in an ambulance and be treated by professionals.

When undergoing any form of surgery, it is vital that you know the risks associated with your procedure/s.


Plastic surgeons undertake a minimum of seven years of additional training once they have obtained their medical degree and most likely become members of their country’s Plastic Surgeons’ Association (board), which provides specific guidelines that practitioners must follow. Plastic surgeons are also usually members of specific associations in which they are trained (e.g. facial surgery, breast reconstruction etc.), which awards them the status of specialist. ALL Medi Makeovers surgeons are Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeons.


In Australia, to qualify as a fellow of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery (ACCS) – note that NOT all ‘cosmetic’ surgeons are, members must be at least five years postgraduate and have worked for a minimum of three years in a surgical environment. The college then provides two years of specialist training, and members are audited annually.


To find out how some cosmetic surgery clinics operate, recruited three women as shadow shoppers. They visited cosmetic surgery clinics in Sydney and Brisbane, requesting consultations for breast augmentation, liposuction and Botox, and reported back on their experiences.

They then formally invited members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) to give expert opinions on how these consultations were conducted.


Breast augmentation

Breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures. Our shadow shopper visited 12 cosmetic surgery clinics and uncovered some appalling examples of unprofessional behaviour. She was:

  • Shown the breasts of one of the sales consultants as an example of the doctor’s work
  • Told by one doctor that she “needed” to have the surgery done
  • Offered a discount if she agreed to have ”before” and ”after” photos of her breasts published on the internet
  • Told that if she had her breasts enlarged it would increase her chances of finding a partner.

All this aside, our ASPS experts rated the overall explanation of the procedure’s potential risks as particularly bad.


Our shadow shopper was not well informed by the doctors about dangers such as haematoma, infection, leakage or scarring.

  • Some did not even ask why she was considering the treatment.
  • Only seven checked her weight.

Only two clinics provided evidence of accreditation when asked (another had a certificate in the waiting room).

In a few instances our shadow shopper also felt she was being pushed into making a decision, and three times was offered brochures about credit without asking.



Liposuction is another popular procedure, but also one of the most dangerous. Liposuction usually involves pumping the “problem” area with liquid before sucking fat out of the body. It can be painful and requires a high level of post-operative care.

Our shadow shopper was rated by ASPS experts as a poor candidate for liposuction – they suggested she would need to lose weight first and that an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) would probably be more suitable.

She visited 14 cosmetic surgery clinics, many of which suggested she wasn’t a suitable candidate for the work on her tummy. However, our experts still identified some problems with the consultations.

  • Several suggested she consider having liposuction in other areas of her body even though she didn’t ask for it.
  • One doctor suggested other cosmetic procedures to improve her appearance such as removing fat from her chin, and another doctor suggested removing some moles and skin tags, even though she didn’t request it.
  • Very few doctors mentioned their actual qualifications and accreditations.
  • Not all doctors said how many surgeries they had performed.



Botox doesn’t involve surgery and nowadays seems an everyday treatment. Despite this, it is still a risky procedure and not suitable for all candidates.

It’s also critical that potential clients are questioned thoroughly before undertaking the treatment, particularly if there’s a possibility the patient is pregnant – an Australian baby was born with severe defects possibly as a result of the mother using a virtually identical treatment to Botox in her first week of pregnancy.

Our ASPS experts didn’t consider the shadow shopper a suitable candidate for Botox and suggested other alternatives would work better for the deep line on her forehead.


She visited 12 cosmetic clinics and received varying advice.

  • One doctor said Botox would not be suitable as she would be unable to use her eyebrows to express herself, instead recommending a filler, which our experts felt was reasonable advice.
  • Nine doctors recommended both a filler and Botox.
  • Six recommended a brow lift (along with Botox or a filler), which the experts considered reasonable.
  • Discussion of risks in all the consultations was minimal.
  • One doctor was assessed by our experts as wanting to inject the shadow shopper in the wrong area of her face.

Another doctor told our shopper that Botox would not help her problem but offered to do the procedure anyway.


It’s clear from the market testing of that the main issue with the ‘Cosmetic’ Surgeons was lack of clear information, lack of properly explaining the risks of the procedures and lack of a patient over profit mentally. It is important to ask questions and do your research when it comes to surgery.


Good questions to ask your surgeon are:

  • What are your qualifications and experience?
  • How many times have you performed the procedure?
  • How many times have you performed it in the past six months?
  • Can I speak to previous patients?
  • Are there any complications associated with the procedure?
  • If complications do occur or the procedure is not successful, how will you deal with this?
  • Where will the surgery be performed?
  • Will a qualified anaesthetist administer the anaesthetic and/or sedative medication?
  • Will I need time off work?
  • Are there other post-operative side-effects?
  • Will there be any visible scarring following the procedure? How can this be minimised?
  • What aftercare will be provided and will this be included in the treatment costs?


If you have any questions about your surgery, we’re happy to help.

ENQUIRE TODAY, email or call 0416109417

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