Cosmetic Surgery Procedure Complications & Side Effects

All cosmetic dermatological, medical and surgical procedures carry risk. 

GP Referral

From 1 July 2023, anyone in Australia who is considering undergoing a major cosmetic surgery procedure; must obtain a referral from a GP before booking any procedure. 

GP referral is not required for non-surgical cosmetic treatments such as Cosmetic Injectables, Dermatological Lasers and Skin Rejuvenation treatments. 

Body Dysmorphia Screening:

All patients undergoing any cosmetic medical or surgical procedure now require to fill in a psychological assessment questionnaire to determine their suitability. A person who is identified as high risk for being psychologically unfit to undergo a cosmetic procedure will be referred to a psychologist for in-depth assessment. 

People who suffer from Body Dysmorphia Disorder are never happy with their physical appearance and are consistently preoccupied by their looks. They tend to constantly seek unnecessary cosmetic enhancements and in doing so get themselves into significant financial, emotional and physical stress. They also tend to complain to their cosmetic professionals (who happen to be their treatment providers) that they are not happy with their work. 

Informed Consent

The clinician performing any cosmetic treatment must provide you with enough information to help you make an informed decision whether or not to have that procedure. In addition to information about their qualifications and experience, you should also be given information about:
• What the procedure involves
• Potential risks, complications and limitations
• The recovery process
• Any additional treatments you may require

Total cost including details of deposits required and payment dates, refund of deposits, payments for follow-up care and possible further costs for revision surgery or additional treatment
• The complaints process and how to make a complaint if you are not happy with your treatment outcomes

You should be given the opportunity before the surgery to ask any questions or seek extra information from your doctor.

There must be a cooling-off period (of at least seven days) after you give consent, before you have the surgery.

Potential Risks & Complications

Medical / surgical complications include:
• Excessive bruising
• Prolonged swelling
• Infection
• Post operative bleeding
• blood clots
• anaesthetic complications
• delayed wound healing
• skin death / necrosis, nerve injury , prolonged numbness

Cosmetic complications are complications of a cosmetic nature only e.g unevenness or asymmetry, and have no impact on the physical health of the patient. These include:

• Unevenness
• Asymmetry
• Lumps
• Hollows
• Under-correction or over-correction

Cosmetic complications often resolve with time and can be corrected with further procedures, if required in majority of cases. 

Minimising Complications

Although it is not possible to eliminate the possibility of complications completely, there are a number of things that can be done before and after your cosmetic procedure to help minimise adverse outcomes.

These include:

• Choosing your treatment provider carefully– Choose someone with a good name and reputation. To understand your clinicians experience you should ask about their qualification, years in practice and before/after images of their work. Feeling comfortable with your treatment provider is very important as this will allow you to effectively communicate with them.

• Seek a second opinion – All patients considering any cosmetic procedure are advised to seek independent professional opinion form at least two appropriately qualified medical professionals

• Look at the clinic / environment – Does the clinic appear clean and professional? The procedure you are considering will likely involve a medicine and/or medical device. You can check that any medicine and/or medical device that will be used in the procedure or surgery is approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). You can check whether a medicine or medical device is approved for supply by looking for it in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).

• Look at the staff – It is important to ensure that you feel comfortable with all the staff involved in your care, including the receptionists, nurses, and the doctors.

• Follow pre and post-operative instructions – Make sure that you understand what to do before and after the procedure to minimise adverse outcomes.