Registered medical practitioners who perform cosmetic medical and surgical procedures include (but are not limited to); plastic surgeons, general surgeons, otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat and head and neck surgeons), oral and maxillofacial surgeons, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, general practitioners and practitioners with no specialty qualifications (general registration only).

Medical practitioners who provide cosmetic medical and surgical procedures are subject to a range of regulatory measures. These include: The Medical Board of Australia’s (MBA) code of conduct, Good medical practice: A code of conduct for doctors in Australia that describes the Board’s expectations of all doctors registered to practise medicine in Australia; Medical practitioners are registered nationally under the National Scheme and must comply with the National Law and approved registration standards, including Continuing Professional Development Standards; health care complaints mechanisms; NSW poisons legislation; Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates therapeutic goods under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989. From 1 October 2016, medical practitioners will also be subject to Medical Board of Australia Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who perform cosmetic medical and surgical procedures.

To further strengthen the laws regulating the cosmetic surgery industry to provide greater safeguards to patients, amendment to the Private Health Facilities Regulation (the Regulation) was made on 3 June 2016. The change to the Regulation requires that any facility undertaking certain cosmetic surgical procedures (except dental procedures) must be licensed. This means that facilities that carry out certain cosmetic surgical procedures will be subject to the same licensing standards that currently apply to licensed private health facilities.

Private health facilities are required to be licensed in NSW under the Private Health Facilities Act 2007 and comply with the standards in the Private Health Facilities Regulation 2017. Under the Regulation there is a transitional provision where a private health facility providing cosmetic surgery procedures is not required to be licensed until 3 March 2017. This gives the operator 9 months to make any necessary building works and changes to the facility to comply with the licensing standards or alternatively make other arrangements.

The Amending Regulation amends the Private Health Facilities Regulation 2010 to create a new class of private health facilities, being the cosmetic surgery class. Under the changes, from 3 March 2017 any facility that carries out the following procedures (except for dental procedures) must be licensed under the cosmetic surgery class:

  1. any cosmetic surgical procedure that is intended to alter or modify a person’s appearance or body and that involves anaesthesia (including a Biers Block), or
  2. any of the following surgical procedures (however described):
    1. abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
    2. belt lipectomy
    3. brachioplasty (armlift)
    4. breast augmentation or reduction
    5. buttock augmentation, reduction or lift
    6. calf implants
    7. facial implants that involve inserting an implant on the bone or surgical exposure to deep tissue
    8. fat transfer that involves the transfer of more than 2.5 litres of lipoaspirate
    9. liposuction that involves the removal of more than 2.5 litres of lipoaspirate
    10. mastopexy or mastopexy augmentation
    11. necklift
    12. pectoral implants
    13. penis augmentation
    14. rhinoplasty
    15. superficial musculoaponeurotic system facelift (SMAS facelift)
    16. vaginoplasty or labiaplasty.

More information is available on Private Health Care and the licencing of private health facilities.

Licensed facilities must comply with the Private Health Facility Act and Regulation, including complying with the standards set out in the Regulation. These standards and requirements are aimed at protecting patients and relate to the safety of the premises and clinical care and patient safety.

There are also specific standards that apply to different classes. For example, a facility licensed in the surgical, anaesthetic or new cosmetic class is generally required to comply with guidelines issued by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, which details the requirements for monitoring equipment and staffing requirements.

It is an offence for a licensee not to conduct their facility in accordance with the standards. Further, failure to comply with a standard can result in a conditions being placed on the licence or in serious cases a suspension or cancellation of a licence. Should you have any questions in relation to this change please contact the Regulation and Compliance Unit, NSW Ministry of Health on 9424 5952 or email

Current as at: Thursday 1 November 2018
Contact page owner: Legal and Regulatory Services