Patient Safety in Cosmetic Surgery to be improved in NSW by new regulations

Posted on Friday, 14 September 2018

In NSW, new laws regarding Cosmetic Surgery come into effect on 17 September 2018 aimed at improving patient safety. These new laws apply to both the facilities where cosmetic surgery procedures are undertaken and to the owner of the facility.  The new responsibilities require:

  • The health facility display a copy of its licence in the foyer
  • The treating doctor to check that the facility they are operating in has the correct licence for the procedure they are performing.

There are two categories of cosmetic procedures that are required to be conducted in licensed facilities:

  • cosmetic surgical procedures that use high levels of anaesthesia or more than conscious sedation; or
  • certain listed surgical procedures, regardless of the level of anaesthesia or sedation used.

The President of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASASPS), Dr Naveen Somia has welcomed the introduction of stricter regulations on cosmetic surgery in NSW.

“We have seen a sharp rise in improper procedures being undertaken in unlicensed facilities causing patients serious harm.  The recent ABC Four Corners program, ‘Beauty’s New Normal’ shone a spotlight on just how dangerous the issue is becoming with the case studies of women who have been maned, disfigured and who are now severely out of pocket at the hands of unscrupulous providers offering procedures that they are under-qualified to perform.

“Protecting patients from harm who undergo cosmetic surgery is of vital importance.  The tolerance for risk should be zero.

“I applaud the NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard and the Ministry of Health for bringing about stricter regulation to safeguard patient safety in cosmetic surgery,” Dr Somia said.

In 2016 the Private Health Facilities Regulation was amended to create a new class of private health facilities, being the cosmetic surgical class.  Under the Regulation, specific cosmetic surgical procedures are required to be carried out in a licensed private health facility (or a public hospital).  These surgical procedures are:

  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):
    • abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
    • belt lipectomy
    • Brachioplasty (arm lift)
    • breast augmentation or reduction
    • buttock augmentation, reduction or lift
    • calf implants
    • facial implants that involve inserting an implant on the bone or surgical exposure to deep tissue
    • fat transfer that consists of the transfer of more than 2.5 litres of lipoaspirate
    • liposuction that involves the removal of more than 2.5 litres of lipoaspirate
    • mastopexy or mastopexy augmentation
    • neck lift
    • pectoral implants
    • penis augmentation
    • rhinoplasty
    • superficial musculoaponeurotic system facelift (SMAS facelift)
    • vaginoplasty or labiaplasty

“It’s important for patients considering a cosmetic procedure to know that all procedures, whether surgical or not, carry risks,” Dr Somia said.

Before having any cosmetic procedure, ASAPS recommends that you:

  • Check the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website to see if the person performing surgery is registered as a Specialist in Plastic Surgery.
  • Check whether the cosmetic procedure you are considering is on the list of treatments that must be performed at a licensed private health facility or public hospital. Licensed private health facilities should display a copy of their licence.  You can also check whether the clinic is licensed by referring to the list of licensed facilities.
  • Take your time deciding what you want and if you wish to proceed. These can be complex procedures.  You should be fully informed about what is involved and the possible risks.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and read any information you are given carefully and make sure you understand the implications before you agree to proceed.


Media contact: Julia Power, National PR and Marketing Manager, 0414 276 990

What’s involved in my surgery?

Take a closer look at procedures