The word plastic is of Greek origin and it means malleable or changeable. This is the origin of the description Plastic Surgery. Plastic Surgery is surgery to change the appearance of a person.
Plastic Surgery has its origins in Reconstructive Surgery. The very early records suggest that it goes back over five thousand years. In some Asian countries there was an unsavoury habit of amputation of the nose of persons guilty of adultery. Records suggest that Plastic Surgery was used as far back as those times to attempt to reconstruct noses. It is true that this unsavoury habit still exists in some Pacific Islands. I have in fact been involved with the reconstruction of noses, ears and eyelids in the Pacific Islands for exactly this problem.
Plastic Surgery continued its course over the centuries that followed in its attempts to return the function and appearance of patients to normal. The archives of surgeries used are very interesting to look at.
The 1900’s saw Plastic Surgery begin to develop its Cosmetic Surgery interest. Breast Augment procedures date back to the nineteenth century and Face Lifts date back to the end of the nineteenth century. These cosmetic surgeries have followed on from the plastic surgery which had preceded them. Over the last 100 years Plastic Surgeons have further explored and developed Cosmetic Surgery into the Cosmetic Surgery that we know today.
Both nationally and internationally the vast majority of cosmetic surgery is performed by Plastic Surgeons.
Internationally there are societies for cosmetic surgery. They include the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery throughout Europe. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery within the United States. Australia’s corresponding body is the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. To be a member of these Societies a surgeon has to be a qualified Plastic Surgeon and a member of the Plastic Surgery Specialty group within their country. Persons who are not qualified Plastic Surgeons are not admitted to these national and international groups.
Within Australia surgical qualification almost exclusively comes under the banner of The Royal Australian College of Surgeons. The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons and the sub group within that of The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery are both under the general umbrella of The Australian College of Surgeons. Any member of these Plastic Surgery and Cosmetic Surgery bodies must have a fellowship from The Royal Australian College of Surgeons.
Training in Cosmetic Surgery for Plastic Surgeons has been integrated into Plastic Surgery training courses. This is a prolonged period of training involving both Public Hospital and Private Hospital training and apprenticeship in both Plastic and Cosmetic surgery. Standardly it is a four year course.
This extensive training ensures that Plastic Surgeons are not “skin deep” surgeons. Plastic Surgeons have a thorough knowledge of the surgeries they perform, including Cosmetic Surgery. They have a profound knowledge and understanding of the needs of patients undergoing Cosmetic Surgery, the potential problems of Cosmetic Surgery and how to manage those problems.
There are ongoing education programs within the Society to maintain and upgrade knowledge and skills regarding Cosmetic Surgery and every member undergoes annual assessment by the Australian College of Surgeons to ensure that they remain current and safe in their practice.
In short Cosmetic Surgery has been the domain of Plastic Surgeons throughout its history. It remains primarily within their domain, although other surgical sub-specialties and indeed practitioners without appropriate surgical qualifications recognised by the Australian College of Surgeons are entering that domain.
It is appropriate that a person considering Cosmetic Surgery critically look at the Surgeon providing their surgery and ensure that they feel comfortable with that person and with that person’s capacity, training and qualifications.