Why is cosmetic surgery treated so differently from other forms of surgery?
One reason is the trivialisation of the procedures – the language of “tummy tucks” and “man boobs” distracts attention from the fact that much cosmetic surgery involves significant health, even life-threatening, risks – more so if compounded by inadequately regulated and poor medical practices, such as deficient sterilisation or improper prescription writing, as exposed by Four Corners and this masthead.
Another key reason for the inadequate regulation is that cosmetic surgery is not seen as part of the health system. Rather, it is perceived as being not about sick people but about people who are concerned about their appearance. It is not a recognised field of specialisation in medical schools. It is not a Medicare item nor government-subsidised. It has slipped lightly through the field of strict surgery regulation.
This is not to say that on paper the field is totally unregulated. There exists an array of regulations that could be used to greater effect. There is licensing (by health departments) of day-procedure centres and private hospitals where cosmetic surgery is practised. There are other forms of regulation such as drug and poisons laws and general public health and medical regulation.