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What It Takes to Be a Plastic Surgeon

What it Takes to Be a Plastic Surgeon

The specialty of Reconstructive and Cosmetic Plastic Surgery is one of nine surgical areas governed by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS).

Currently in Australia, it is legal for any doctor with a basic medical degree to perform surgery. Only Specialist Plastic Surgeons have a minimum of 12 years medical and surgical education, and 5 years of specialist postgraduate training.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW:  When making your decision in selecting your surgeon, remember that the Medical Board of Australia states that the “Specialist Plastic Surgeon” title can only be used by Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) approved specialist surgeons in the recognised specialty of Plastic Surgery.

What is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon?

A Specialist Plastic Surgeon is a Commonwealth Government accredited plastic surgeon, trained and qualified to undertake invasive reconstructive and cosmetic surgery in public and private hospitals, and accredited day surgeries.  The Australian national Medical Board states that the “Specialist Plastic Surgeon” title can only be used by FRACS approved specialist surgeons in the recognised specialty of plastic surgery.

Dr Layt discussing why it is important that your Surgeon is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College

What does FRACS mean?

FRACS means Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.  The distinction is only awarded to specialist surgeons who have completed a minimum of 12 years medical and surgical education, with at least 5 years of specialist postgraduate training. A Specialist Plastic Surgeon with the letters “FRACS” appearing after his or her name is accredited to perform invasive reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery.

Why should I choose a Specialist Plastic Surgeon?

Currently, it is legal for any doctor in Australia with a basic medical degree to perform surgery.  Specialist Plastic Surgeons, in contrast, have extensive surgical education and training that includes a minimum of 12 years medical and surgical education, with at least 5 years of specialist postgraduate training.  All surgical procedures carry risk, however you can reduce the chance of risk and complication by consulting only with a Specialist Plastic Surgeon who is trained, qualified and accredited to perform reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.

How are Specialist Plastic Surgeons educated, trained and accredited?

Specialist Plastic Surgeons are accredited by the Commonwealth Governments of Australia and New Zealand, through the Australian Medical Council (AMC) and New Zealand Medical Council (NZMC) respectively, to perform all aspects of reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.  All Specialist Plastic Surgeons must undergo extensive medical education and training to qualify for their accreditation.  The surgical specialist pathway includes a minimum of 12 years medical and surgical education, with at least 5 years of specialist postgraduate training.  The five year postgraduate Surgical Education and Training Program (SET) for surgical registrars in reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery is provided by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), and administered by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons Inc (ASPS).  Importantly, RACS is the only College in Australia that is accredited by the Commonwealth Government to deliver specialist surgical training.  Upon completion of their surgical education and training, qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeons become “Fellows” of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS).

Further information regarding the specialty of Reconstructive & Cosmetic Plastic Surgery can be found on the following websites: