Before having any cosmetic procedure:
It is advisable to be referred to a medical practitioner by your GP, as a general practitioner is likely to have knowledge of reputable and experienced surgeons skilled in the procedure to be undertaken.
If the person claims to be a doctor or nurse, you can check the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website to confirm that the person is registered to practise in Australia and whether there are any conditions attached to their registration.
Don’t jump in. Take your time deciding what you want and if you wish to proceed. These can be complex procedures. Your provider should give you detailed information about what is involved and the possible risks. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and read any information you are given carefully and make sure you understand the implications before you agree to proceed. Try to obtain independent information, including from your GP, before agreeing to undergo the procedure.
Certain cosmetic procedures must only be performed at a licensed private health facility or a public hospital. See What types of cosmetic procedures are required to be carried out in licensed private health facilities? for the current list of these procedures.
If you are considering having a cosmetic procedure on this list, you should check if the private health facility is licensed. Every private health facility in NSW is required to display a copy of its licence. You can also search for the clinic on the list of Licensed private health facilities under the Private Health Facilities Act 2007 in NSW.
Currently, the cosmetic procedures (other than dental procedures) that must be carried out in a licensed private health facility or public hospital are:
NSW Health is currently considering whether any non-surgical procedures should be added to this list and will continue to review whether any other cosmetic procedures should be included. Consumers should be aware that the list of procedures required to be carried out at a licensed private health facility may therefore be updated as necessary to ensure that it remains appropriate.
“Cosmetic surgery” is not a recognised specialty in Australia and the title of “cosmetic surgeon” is not protected under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. Consumers should therefore be mindful that medical practitioners using the title “cosmetic surgeon” do not necessarily hold a specialist qualification. You can check if a doctor has specialist qualifications on the AHPRA website.
All cosmetic procedures should be undertaken in a clean facility.
If injections are used, the person administering injections should be wearing gloves. Used syringes and needles should be disposed of in a sharps container. Any medications should be supplied in accordance with Australian law and have English labelling.
If the procedure is one of the surgical procedures listed above, the clinic should be licensed as a private health care facility and the procedure should be performed by a registered medical practitioner.
The medical practitioner should require a medical history and discuss any current medications being taken. You should be offered a consent form advising of possible risks and a cooling off period to consider whether to proceed with the proposed surgery.
Complaints concerning the quality of cosmetic procedures can be referred to the Health Care Complaints Commission.
Body modification procedures are those which involve the deliberate alteration of the appearance of part of the body. The term “extreme body modification procedures” is generally used to refer to body modification procedures which involve cutting the skin and/or sutures and which are not carried out by a registered health practitioner. These include sub-dermal implants, tongue splitting and scarification.
Extreme body modification procedures carry risks of permanent physical dysfunction, bacterial infections (which may lead to bone and tissue damage, life-threatening illness or death), viral infections such as hepatitis and, in the case of implants under the skin, risks of your immune system reacting to the implant.
Many products commonly used in cosmetic procedures, such as dermal filler injections containing hyaluronic acid and anti-wrinkle injections containing botulinum toxins, are prescription only substances and must be listed, included or registered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) or subject to a specific approval or exemption under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) or Regulation.
Consumers should be cautious if there are indications that products are being used at a clinic which may:
From 1 September 2021, the regulation of the administration of medicines commonly used in cosmetic procedures such as anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers (Cosmetic Medicines) will be strengthened.
Under the new laws, only an authorised practitioner, or a nurse acting on the direction of a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner, may administer Cosmetic Medicines. An authorised practitioner includes a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or dentist. A nurse can be a registered nurse or an enrolled nurse. You can check the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website to confirm that the person is a registered health practitioner, and whether there are any conditions attached to their registration.
The medical practitioner or nurse practitioner must review you, whether in person or by audio-visual link, before giving a direction for administration of a Cosmetic Medicine to a nurse.
Businesses that provide services using Cosmetic Medicines must ensure they have risk management policies and procedures in place to protect the health and safety of patients, including appropriate equipment for use in a patient medical emergency.