Trish Hammond: I’m here today with Dr Mark Magnusson, who’s a specialist plastic surgeon who works from the Allure Clinic in Toowoomba, and he’s also the incoming President of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. That was a mouthful.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk today.

Mark: That’s all right.

Trish Hammond: We’re just going to have a bit of a chat about patient safety and how to be prepared and how to know that the practitioner that you’re seeing is safe and going to be looking after you the best way possible, basically.

Mark: Sure.

Trish Hammond: Can you just give us a bit of an idea of what we should be looking for and how we’re going to know that we’re going somewhere reputable and going to be looked after?

Mark: Certainly I can obviously speak most specifically about plastic surgery, as a plastic surgeon. Assessing whether the person you’re seeing is a bona fide plastic surgeon is accessible if you know where to go. The most basic thing you can do is you can check the AHPRA website, with the Australian Medical Board essentially, and anyone who says they’re a plastic surgeon should be registered as a specialist and specifically as a plastic surgeon. If you’re not, then you’re not recognised as a plastic surgeon in this country. It’s straightforward, but only if you know where to go.

A plastic surgeon has a Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, so apart from eye surgeons, it’s the only college in Australia that is recognised by the Australian Medical Council as able to train surgeons. FRACS, which means a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and plastic surgeon registered as a plastic surgeon with the Australian Medical Board or AHPRA. If you haven’t got those, you’re not a plastic surgeon in this country.

There are some who don’t specifically have an FRACS, but they have been trained overseas but the College has approved them, their level of training, as equivalent to ours. So they may not have an FRACS but they will still require or still have a plastic surgery registration with AHPRA.

Trish Hammond: Okay, so is there any initials that we can look out for after their name to know that-

Mark: Well, for us if you are locally trained or you’ve done a Fellowship with the College, you get an FRACS, so Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. That means you’re a surgeon. Many will have after it in brackets PLAST, short for plastic. But with AHPRA, that’s where your specific specialization is registered.

Trish Hammond: Okay, great.

Mark: A cardiothoracic surgeon will have that registered, an ENT surgeon will have that registered and so forth.

Trish Hammond: Which means they are additionally trained in performing surgery.

Mark: That’s right. We’re fully qualified as surgeons, but we have … I’m not trained as an ENT surgeon. I’m not trained as a heart surgeon. We have the same duration of training, we have the same intensity of training, we have the same scheme of exams, but what we learn is different to what they learn.

Trish Hammond: What about in the non-surgical arena? What should consumers look out for to know that they’re going to a reputable person for non-surgical work?

Mark: Okay, well it is an unregulated area and so that’s a challenge. I think that what you can do is that there are a number of reputable societies that are involved in maintaining education, and we have several societies associated with this meeting for instance. We’ve got obviously ASAPS which is the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. We have the CPCA, which is the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia, or of Australia. We also have the New Zealand Society of Cosmetic Physicians that are associated with this meeting, and the Australian Society of Cosmetic Dermatology. They’re four societies associated with this meeting. If you’re seeing someone who says they’re a member of one of those societies, you should be able to check that.

There will be other dermatologists, there will be ENT surgeons and eye surgeons who have specialist qualifications, and they are well and truly qualified for this sort of thing. Then there are some plastic surgeons who may not be a member of ASAPS which is our society, and similarly they may be qualified to carry out that sort of work.

Because it’s unregulated, you need to be able to try and assess that whoever you’re seeing is interested in safety, is interested in maintaining standards, and is interested in treatments that actually provide efficacy and results. At this meeting, that’s what we discussed. It’s entirely about safety, outcomes and appropriateness. I guess you’ve got to rely on the person you’re seeing being involved with a reputable society that’s going to support and require education and continuing development.

Trish Hammond: Fantastic. That’s why these forums are so great, because it’s like the masters teaching the masters and the future masters, basically.

Mark: Yeah, that’s right. Aesthetic medicine is an interesting field, because there are a broad range of people who perform these sorts of treatments, but we’re all judged by who performs it worst, not by who performs it best.

Trish Hammond: That’s true.

Mark: I’ve run this meeting now for the last four years, and my vein has always been that we need to make sure that the lowest level is brought up especially. Because if we can improve the safety and the efficacy of that level, because there’s an excess of issues that occur when you’re on a steep part of the learning curve. The idea really is that we need to obviously continue to elevate and continue to improve, but we really have to make sure that the people at the entry level are rapidly getting to a safe point.

Trish Hammond: Yep that’s so true, and especially nowadays because so many people are actually looking at those non-surgical options.

Mark: It has been double digit growth for almost ten years.

Trish Hammond: Well thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. If you’ve got any confusion, and you just need a little bit more info, feel free to drop us an email at If we don’t know what you want to know, we’ll find out from guys like Dr Magnusson.

Thank you so much.

Mark: Pleasure, thanks very much.


Trish is a plastic surgery blogger. She is passionate about wellbeing, health and beauty, and doesn't mind a little bit of 'help' from the amazing cosmetic and beauty procedures that are available today. Trish spends her days talking to women and men who are looking for suggestions and advice on procedures that are available to them. Cutting through the sales pitch and hype, a down-to-earth response on general information is what you will get.

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