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Surgical Myths Debunked

Dr John Kippen

Probably the most common myth is that cosmetic surgery is not ‘real’ surgery and there are less risks. This is not true. All surgery has risk, scars and complications. These need to be carefully discussed and understood. Potential patients need t o weigh up the risks to benefits of the procedure. 


Cosmetic surgeons are plastic surgeons who are fully trained as a specialist in plastic and reconstructive surgery. 

In Australia, any doctor with a base medical degree can perform surgery and call themselves a ‘cosmetic surgeon’. However, it takes eight to 10 years of specialist training to become a qualified plastic surgeon and have your training recognised by The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), the only legitimate, professional body accredited to train specialist surgeons. Only these surgeons can use the letters FRACS, Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, after their name. This is the same college that trains other specialist surgeons such as neurosurgeons, cardiac surgeons or orthopaedic surgeons.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons also requires and monitors ongoing medical education - ensuring specialists continue to provide the highest standards of professional care.

Only fully trained and registered specialist plastic and reconstructive surgeons who are Fellows of RACS can join the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS). Having a background in reconstructive surgery enhances the understanding of and ability to perform cosmetic surgery.

Oculoplastic surgeons are opthalmology trained and facial plastic surgeons are ear, nose and throat trained. They are not plastic surgeons. 


Plastic surgery does not result in scars

If the skin is cut with a scalpel or a laser, it heals with a scar. 

Plastic surgeons are skilled in concealing scars, using instruments to place scars in hidden areas and looking after scars to try to optimise the outcome. They can manage scars with active and conservative treatments. 

However, bad scars can still result. Certain areas of the body are more prone to making poor scars. Good scars in one area of the body does not mean all scars will be good. 
Scars can be thick, lumpy (hypertrophic or keloid) or stretched and wide, and can retain colour and be pink or purple. Scars usually improve over time and an improvement may be seen for up to two years, sometimes longer.


Fat cells removed at liposuction come back or comes back in other areas

Liposuction procedures permanently remove fat cells from the body. If the patient was to gain weight, the remaining fat cells increase in size. Loss of weight has the opposite effect. 


Liposuction is good for weight loss

As for all surgery, the patient should be at or near their ideal body weight. Liposuction is ideal for localised fatty deposits resistant to weight loss and exercise. Being close to your ideal body weight has been shown to reduce surgery risks.


Cosmetic surgery is only for women

The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons research shows a 273 per cent increase in men seeking cosmetic procedures between 1997 and 2013.

Dr Kippen is a practicing plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon and a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. He is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Dr Kippen consults from rooms in Mona Vale, Brookvale and Wahroonga. Phone 1300 547 736 or email

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