Whilst many people bandy these words around quite loosely in the public domain, the three terms ‘plastic’, ‘cosmetic’ and ‘reconstructive’ surgery mean quite different things amongst the medical fraternity. Plastic surgery refers to an operation that will alter anatomy to make it better, both functionally and aesthetically. Examples might be to reshape your nose so that it looks better and you can breathe easier; to correct an underdeveloped breast; or to trim heavy upper eyelids that obstruct your vision. Reconstructive surgery is an operation to return anatomy to its original form. Examples include repairing the cut tendons of a hand, or rebuilding a breast lost through cancer. Cosmetic surgery aims to improve on a person’s original form to make it more beautiful. Examples include facelifts, breast-augmentation (enlargement) surgery and liposuction. At Adelaide Plastic Surgery, we have qualified plastic surgeons who are skilled and experienced in all of these fields.
This is where the difference becomes crucial. And it might raise your eyebrows (quite literally, in our business). Plastic surgeons are qualified specialists who, after graduating as doctors, complete an additional eight to ten years of specialist surgical training. You can tell a truly qualified plastic surgeon by the letters ‘FRACS’ after their name. This stands for Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, which is the peak professional body for surgeons in Australia and New Zealand. That’s why a qualified plastic surgeon is the only person you should entrust your body—and your life—to for cosmetic surgery. Why? Because, alarmingly, any doctor may call themselves a cosmetic surgeon without having undergone any further formal training, or been tested or accredited by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, or its equivalent in whatever country they perform in.
Every plastic surgeon at Adelaide Plastic Surgery is qualified and a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. If you’re still not convinced that’s important, we suggest you read the next question and answer.
The first thing to understand is that of the two words ‘cosmetic’ and ‘surgery’, the one you need to be really clear in your mind about is the latter. Any and all surgery comes with risk. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not the kind of practitioner we would dignify with a title. The best way to lower your risk is to go into any elective surgery as fit as possible. And: choose a surgeon who is fully qualified (see the question above for a full explanation). You are literally putting your life in their hands. Not to mention the way you’ll look for the rest of your life. As a hint, always look for a surgeon who is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (they will have the initials FRACS after their name). All our surgeons do. Even if you choose not to come to us, though, please don’t underestimate the seriousness of what you’re contemplating.
Any surgery that involves an incision will leave a scar. It’s that simple. The real questions are: where will the scars be? how big will they be? will they fade over time? The answers will depend on many factors, including: the skill and precision of the surgeon performing the procedure; the scope of the task at hand; the fitness, age and condition of the patient; and the degree to which the patient contributes to their own post-surgical recovery. A lot of procedures can be carried out with minimally invasive techniques or by ‘hiding’ the incisions in places that are less obvious. And most scars do heal well and fade when attended to with rigour. The most obvious point is to discuss your expectations frankly and fully with your surgeon and listen carefully to what they say and what they expect the result to be.
You may be considering cosmetic surgery and have a plan that goes something like this: you find the cheapest deal you can (anyone who calls themselves a surgeon must be OK, right?), undergo a day of suffering (no pain, no gain) and then you sit by a pool in some exotic location with your face or body in bandages and a cocktail anaesthetic by your side. A week of fun and sun later, you fly home to the gasps of amazement from your friends and family. It’s time to wake up now.
From our professional point of view, a lot of the deals we see on the Internet are, frankly, scary. Look at it logically: if the price is low, with airfares and accommodation thrown in or cheap, something has to give. Often it’s the area you really mustn’t compromise on. As you can read in the answers to questions above, not every surgeon is qualified or of a proven standard. And the surgeon you meet or who fronts the clinic may not be the person who actually operates on you. Then, the standard of medical care may be lacking. We’ve even heard of situations where breast implants have been out of date, leaking or unsuitable. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a number of victims who return to Australia with serious medical problems, which just cost more money to set right.
As unpalatable as it may be, medical holidays are just plain risky. Now, you might think: well, we would say that, wouldn’t we? Honestly, we don’t mind a bit if you decide not to come to us for your surgery. What we do want is that you look after yourself and go to a surgeon, preferably in Australia or New Zealand, who is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. And if you can’t afford a reliable, qualified and proven surgeon, save up until you can. Your life just might depend on it.
At Adelaide Plastic Surgery, our care for—and about—you commences when you make your first enquiry. And it only ends when you are fully recovered. So, if you have any concerns or questions at all after your operation, you can call (08) 8213 1800 to speak to our friendly nursing staff from Monday to Friday, 9.00 a.m. till 5.00 p.m. If, however, you experience an emergency, you can call that same number, (08) 8213 1800, to speak to the nurse or surgeon who is on call at that time or, if necessary, your surgeon (just follow the instructions on the message). And that offer stands 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The streets surrounding Adelaide Plastic Surgery provide only limited parking availability. Gray, Hindley, Phillip and Currie Streets all have short-term, limited spots available, some of which are metered. There are, however, a number of off-street car parks in the area, which you can find by clicking here.
The last thing you want to do is either panic mid-procedure, get a ticket or lose an appointment because you couldn’t find a car park. So, if you are having a procedure performed here, you might prefer to get a good friend or partner to drop you and pick you up, as you may not be in a fit, post-operative condition to drive yourself. Alternatively, the tram, bus and train are all very convenient.
Located within Adelaide’s central business district, and just a 10-minute drive from the airport, our purpose-built surgery is technologically and environmentally advanced. Under the one roof, we have three complete day-surgery theatres and a number of specialist treatment rooms, which are fully accredited under ISO Standards. Here, we can perform the full range of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures in comfort and privacy.
Our address is Level 4, 18 North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000. Click here for a map.
Trams. Adelaide’s tramline has a stop right in front of Adelaide Plastic Surgery on North Terrace (it’s the West Terrace stop). Trams are free within the CBD from South Terrace to the Entertainment Centre.
Trains. Adelaide Railway Station is just a few hundred metres along North Terrace. If you’re coming by train, you can either walk west along North Terrace to our surgery from the station or catch a tram.
Buses. Buses, of course, also run along North Terrace, with stop B2 opposite our surgery.
Generally speaking, you need a referral for any medically indicated procedure. However, if you are contemplating a purely cosmetic procedure, a referral is not required. If you are still not sure, you are welcome to call us on (08) 8213 1800 and we’ll advise you.
Beware of ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos; they can be very misleading. (Have you ever heard of Photoshop?) In fact, there are guidelines from the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons that state it is not best practice to have these photos online for that very reason. Besides, we would never compromise the privacy of our patients by publishing them publicly without their full consent. Instead, we show our patients real ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos in the privacy of our offices where we can fully explain how and why each outcome was achieved, and how it might relate to their situation.
If your procedure is medically indicated (and you come with a referral), both Medicare and your private health fund may contribute to the cost. Obviously, this will depend on your fund’s policy and your level of cover. If you are not sure, give us a call on (08) 8213 1800 and we’ll do our best to find out for you.
Here’s what you should bring:
As most of our surgeons operate most days, you will usually not have a lengthy wait ahead of you.
As fees vary from doctor to doctor and depend on the length of the consultation, it’s impossible to quote a figure here. If you call us, however, on (08) 8213 1800 to discuss the procedure, we can always give you a very good idea of what it will cost. And you should never commit to any procedure without knowing that up-front. The good news is that if it’s medically indicated, you will get a rebate.
Absolutely: our staff adheres rigorously to Australia’s stringent privacy laws, and your records are electronically encrypted before being safely stored. View our privacy statement here.
The best idea is to check with your doctor’s personal assistant regarding this if he or she hasn’t already covered it. Generally speaking, if you’re only having a local anaesthetic, you should be able to drive. After any other anaesthesia, you should get someone else to drive you. Likewise, if the procedure is performed on your eyes, hands or feet, it may also restrict your ability to drive and void your car insurance cover in the event of an accident.
It really all depends on what procedure you’re having. Most, however, will produce swelling, bruising and redness immediately post-procedure and you will often be wearing a dressing. So, you probably won’t be leaving here and heading straight to a party. Any pain will be taken care of with analgesia along with dosage advice and the necessary prescriptions, if appropriate. Don’t worry: we will give you all the advice you need and you can always call us 24/7 if something worries you. In fact, if you want to find out exactly what to expect, just go to the page on this web site for the procedure you’re considering.
On 1 October 2016, the Medical Board of Australia released new standards endorsed by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons regarding mandatory waiting periods for COSMETIC procedures. This means you may now have a ‘cooling-off’ period between the time you give us consent to perform any discretionary cosmetic surgery and the time you can make any payment or we can perform the procedure.
• For adults contemplating a major COSMETIC procedure, the waiting period is seven days.
• For those under 18, it’s a minimum of seven days for minor COSMETIC procedures and three months for any major cosmetic procedures.
Furthermore, if you’re under 18 and would like us to perform a major procedure, you will need a psychological evaluation, which can be performed by either your own general practitioner, a psychologist or psychiatrist. We welcome these measures in order to give you time to inform yourself fully (with our help) and consider whether you are prepared to make a commitment with lifelong consequences.