Plastic surgery myths and what you need to know

Common questions about cosmetic surgery

Many myths surround cosmetic surgery writes Dr John Kippen, Specialist Plastic Surgeon operating in Mona Vale and member of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS).


Cosmetic Surgery is safe

There is a widely held view by patients that cosmetic surgery is not “real” surgery and there are fewer risks involved; this is not true.  All surgery has risk, scars and complications — these need to be carefully discussed and understood.  Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will evaluate the risk versus benefit ratio before agreeing to perform your procedure.


‘Cosmetic Surgeons’ and ‘Plastic Surgeons’ are the same

Another common misconception is that ‘Cosmetic Surgeons’ are Plastic Surgeons fully trained in Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  In Australia, any doctor with a base medical degree can perform surgery and call themselves a ‘Cosmetic Surgeon’.  However, it takes eight to ten years of specialist training to become a Specialist Plastic Surgeon and have your training recognised by The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), the only professional body, accredited to train Specialist Surgeons in Australia and New Zealand.

Only these surgeons can use the letters FRACS, Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, after their name.  RACS is the same College that trains other specialist surgeons such as neurosurgeons, cardiac surgeons or orthopaedic surgeons.

The RACS also requires and monitors ongoing medical education, ensuring specialists continue to provide the highest standards of professional care.  Only fully trained and registered Specialist Plastic Surgeons who are Fellows of RACS can join the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the ASAPS.

Having a background in reconstructive surgery enhances the understanding of and ability to perform cosmetic surgery.  Oculoplastic Surgeons are trained in Opthalmology, and Facial Plastic Surgeons are trained as Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons.  They are also not Specialist Plastic Surgeons.


Scars are preventable

The belief that plastic surgery does not result in scars is also not true.  If the skin is cut with a scalpel or a laser, it heals with a scar.  Specialist Plastic Surgeons are skilled in concealing scars by using special instruments, placing scars in hidden areas and advising patients no how to look after their scars to try to optimise the outcome.

They can manage scars with active and conservative treatments.  However, bad scars can still result, and some regions of the body are more prone to poor scars.  Good scars in one area of the body do not mean that all scars will be good.  Scars can be thick, lumpy (hypertrophic or keloid) or stretched and wide.  Scars can retain colour and be pink or purple.  Scars usually improve over time and improvement may be seen for up to two years, sometimes longer.


Fat cells removed at liposuction come back, or come back in other areas? 

Liposuction procedures permanently remove fat cells from the body.  If the patient were to gain weight, the remaining fat cells would increase in size. Losing weight has the opposite effect.


Is liposuction good for weight loss?

No – as for all surgery, the patient should be at or near their ideal body weight.  Liposuction is ideal for localised fatty deposits resistant to weight loss and exercise.  Being close to your ideal body weight has been shown to reduce surgery risks.


Cosmetic surgery is just for women

There’s no doubt that the number of men seeking out cosmetic surgery is growing.  More and more, with our ageing population and people working well into their 60s and 70s, the need to maintain a person’s physical attributes has never been greater.  There are even terms specifically targeting men such as ‘Brotox’, ‘Macho Mouth’ and male patients can also have calf, peck and bicep implants to help them achieve a more muscular appearance.

Choose an ASAPS Member to ensure Excellence in Cosmetic Surgery.


For your cosmetic surgery