What do the Independent Review results mean for Australia’s cosmetic surgery industry?

The final report from the Independent review of medical practitioners who perform cosmetic surgery was released on 1 September 2022.[1]

The review made 16 recommendations for action by AHPRA and the Medical Board to improve patient safety. We've outlined a summary of the key issues and recommendations from the independent review below.

What are the key issues?

The key issues found are:

  • Universal minimum standards for education, training and qualifications of cosmetic surgeons do not exist in Australia. 
  • Presently in Australia, without any universal minimum standards for cosmetic surgeons: 
    • It's possible for any medical practitioner to perform invasive cosmetic surgical procedures; and
    • Consumers are required to conduct their own research in an attempt to identify a qualified and competent practitioner. Such research is easily influenced by social media avenues and other online marketing.
  • Some cosmetic surgery practitioners are knowingly and intentionally flaunting the advertising requirements outlined in the National Law. 
  • Cosmetic surgery consumers are the largest source of complaints to AHPRA and the Medical Board.
  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) have been used by some cosmetic surgery employers, which interfere with the notification of cosmetic surgery incidents and the ability of AHPRA and the Medical Board to fully investigate.

What are the recommendations for AHPRA and the Medical Board?

  • AHPRA and the Medical Board should undertake a targeted education campaign aimed at the cosmetic surgery sector in relation to mandatory and voluntary notifications.
  • AHPRA and the Medical Board should use the 'endorsement' process to establish minimum qualifications for medical practitioners wishing to perform cosmetic surgery. An 'endorsement' recognises that a practitioner has obtained a specific qualification that has been approved by the Medical Board.   
  • Once established, the 'endorsement' process will mean that: 
    • A consumer can search for a cosmetic surgeon's endorsement via the public register; and
    • An endorsed practitioner can advertise their endorsement, thereby enabling a consumer to quickly identify the practitioner's qualifications.
  • Any training program(s) leading to the qualification and endorsement of a cosmetic surgeon must be accredited by an independent accreditation authority
  • public education program about the endorsement of cosmetic surgeons should be carried out.
  • In respect of advertising by cosmetic surgeons, AHRPA and the Medical Board should:
    • Refresh and update the advertising guidelines to clarify the standards expected of cosmetic surgery practitioners, particularly to:
      • Avoid the glamorisation and trivialisation of procedures, including the downplaying of risk;
      • Avoid the promotion of procedures through social media influencers;
      • Limit the filming of procedures for entertainment purposes; and
      • Prevent the targeting of young or otherwise vulnerable groups.
  • Implement stronger enforcement action when it comes to advertising that is inconsistent with the guidelines, including taking prosecutorial action
  • Consider the use of technology to monitor/audit advertising in the cosmetic surgery sector. 


It's clear from the independent review that the cosmetic surgery sector in Australia has been operating without adequate regulation. It will be interesting to see how quickly AHPRA and the Medical Board now act on these recommendations.

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