Plastic Surgeon vs. Cosmetic Surgeon

Choosing a Specialist Plastic Surgeon vs. just any Doctor or “Cosmetic Surgeon” – What’s the Difference?

When searching for a plastic surgeon for any operation, many patients are not aware of the difference between plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons. Cosmetic surgery can be performed by many doctors, however they do not have the expertise and credentials that plastic surgeons work very hard to earn. This means that doctors or “cosmetic surgeons” are not under the strict guidance of recognised boards with proper credentials.

How to find the Best Plastic Surgeon in Australia

Boards such as the ASAPS, FRACS and ISAPS ensure that plastic surgeons hold the highest possible qualifications, skills, judgement, safety knowledge and ethics in their field. These boards are committed to improving patient experiences, through thoroughly researched clinical trials.

Members must be certified by these boards to be a qualified specialist plastic surgeon. Cosmetic surgeons may belong to other groups or societies that are not officially recognised, and can be specialists in numerous other medical areas. Due to this, cosmetic surgery does not need to match the high standards of plastic surgery. The results can be disastrous, particularly when people with no medical training refer to themselves as cosmetic surgeons.

You may have seen the recent expose by Four Corners on cosmetic surgeons called “Cosmetic Cowboys”

Dr Scott Turner is an example of an experienced specialist plastic surgeon. He is a certified member of ASAPS, RACS and ISAPS. These boards are very thorough, and it can take months to become certified. Only when a surgeon is certified (after years of education and residency) can they perform surgery in most accredited hospitals.

Before you consider any plastic surgery procedure, ensure that you are seeing a specialist plastic surgeon. Any doctor can say they are cosmetic surgeon, however to be a plastic surgeon requires rigorous training and industry expertise.

NSW Health Encourages checking your practitioner – are they just a ‘cosmetic surgeon’?

NSW Health is urging people who are considering having minor cosmetic procedures to check the practitioner’s credentials before undergoing treatment. A British survey found a quarter of all people contemplating cosmetic surgery did not know if their surgeon was properly qualified. The report prompted surgeons in Australia to launch an awareness campaign called ‘Think Over Before You Make Over’.

People often make decisions based on price point and accessibility than they do on who’s doing the surgery and what their credentials are which results in a greater risk of poor surgical outcomes, severe infections and even nerve damage or disfigurement. Cosmetic procedures involving surgery, injections or other restricted medicines such as eyelid surgery, injections of anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers should only be performed by a medical practitioner registered in Australia.

Patients considering any of the above procedures should seek the advice of their family GP and check the credentials of the person before undergoing any procedure.

Dr Scott Turner is a passionate and highly qualified cosmetic plastic surgeon and is a member of ASAPS, RACS and ISAPS.

  • ASAPS – Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
  • RACS – Royal Australian College of Surgeons
  • ISAPS – International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons

How to Choose the Best Plastic Surgeon for your Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is a major decision. Whether you are looking to get cosmetic surgery of the breast, body or face, finding the right plastic surgeon is a critical step.

It is essential to find a doctor who is highly trained and skilled in the specific procedure that you’d like to have. Just as importantly, it is essential to have a doctor that makes you feel comfortable and confident.

Not sure how to decide on a doctor? Read our insider guide to finding a plastic surgeon you can trust.

1: Talk to Your Friends & Family

The first step to finding a plastic surgery is to talk to people. Whether you have friends and family in Sydney or on the other side of the world, it is good to talk to them about their experience. Ask them what they liked. Ask them if they would have done anything differently. Dive into the details to know exactly what their procedure was like. This is a great way to learn about what they liked or didn’t like about their doctor so you know what to look for in your search.

2: Search the Web for their Reviews

Doing your homework is so important. Dive into reviews about the procedure that you want and also read reviews on the potential plastic surgeons.  Before you decide to move forward, it is imperative to have a clear picture of each step of the process and make sure that you feel confident with your plastic surgeon.

While collecting online information is a key part of the process, it is equally important to take everything on the internet with a grain of salt.

3: Ask a Medical Professional you trust

Ask your GP or Medical Specialist that you trust for some advice.

Create a detailed list of questions that you have and bring them to your consultation with a specialist plastic surgeon. Remember that no question is silly or a waste of time. Before you consider something a fact, have a doctor confirm everything that you’ve read online so that you can sort myth from fact. Read about the Top Cosmetic Surgery Myths.

4: Check out their Qualifications

Unfortunately, there are a shocking number of people across the world that have no specialised training, yet they call themselves cosmetic surgeons. This is why it is so important to ask any prospective doctor about their background to ensure that he or she is truly qualified.

In Sydney, there are several professional affiliations for plastic surgeons. Dr Turner is a member of Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS), Fellow of Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS), and Australian Medical Association (AMA).

Visit the AHPRA website and make sure they are registered as a specialist.

5: See their Results – Patient Photos

Finding a plastic surgeon is just like finding an employee. Give every potential doctor a job interview! Any good doctor will be happy to answer each and every one of your questions. Every cosmetic surgeon has before and after photos available. Take the time to carefully review each photo of your potential procedure to familiarise yourself with your doctor’s work.

6: Listen to your Gut Feeling

The most important aspect of finding a plastic surgeon is feeling comfortable. From the time that you walk into the clinic to the moment you walk out the door, you need to find a plastic surgery clinic that makes you feel comfortable and confident in your decision.

Are you ready to move forward in your journey? Talk to Dr Turner today for a no-obligation one-to-one chat about your options.

Learn more about why you should avoid “Cosmetic Surgeons”

For further information, watch the 60 Minutes story, Cosmetic Cowboys. or visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeons page on cosmetic surgeons

Next Steps

Always Do Your Research

  • Enquire to find out more about your surgery
  • Please read our website to learn more about your intended procedure

Do you need a Medical Referral to see Dr Turner?

  • A GP Referral is required to Consult with Dr Turner (under new AHPRA Regulations)
  • Please obtain a referral from your GP or Specialist if you want a consultation for an MBS item number surgery.
  • Please note that your Medicare Rebates will NOT be claimable without a valid recent Medical Referral

Making The Most Of Your Consultation

  • Please arrive slightly early for your in-person consultation
  • You are welcome to bring a friend or relative to help consider the information and discuss your options
  • Please be aware you may need to undress for a physical exam so wear simple clothes
  • Ensure you also take a lot of notes during the consultation and thoroughly examine all the documents provided

Want more information before scheduling your consultation?

How to Book Your Consultation

  • You can book your initial consultation by paying the $350 cosmetic consultation fee in advance – when you make your appointment


  • To find out more information about surgery you can book a FREE 15-minute phone conversation with our Friendly Patient Care team via Calendly- Book Consultant 1 or Book Consultant 2

Contact us or call on  1300 437 758  to arrange your surgeon consultation in Sydney.

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