Changes to AHPRA Cosmetic Surgery Regulations, as of July 1 2023, Learn More

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Do you need a GP Referral to see a Plastic Surgeon? July 1, 2023

From 1 July 2023, all patients wanting to consult with a Plastic Surgeon will need to obtain a GP referral.

Effective July 1st, 2023, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has introduced updated guidelines concerning both cosmetic and plastic surgery procedures. These guidelines now mandate that individuals seeking plastic surgery, regardless of their reasons (medical or purely cosmetic), must obtain a referral from a general practitioner (GP) or a specialist before proceeding with the surgery.

This referral system aims to ensure that patients receive appropriate and comprehensive care, with a focus on their overall well-being and safety. By involving either a GP or specialist in the initial assessment and referral process, patients can benefit from their guidance in determining the most suitable course of action.

This new requirement not only ensures that patients receive the appropriate care but also helps to establish a collaborative approach among healthcare providers. By involving multiple professionals, patients can benefit from a holistic assessment and personalised treatment plan.

If you are considering plastic surgery after July 1st, 2023, it is important to schedule an appointment with your GP or a relevant specialist to obtain a referral. They will guide you through the process, address any concerns you may have, and assist you in making informed decisions about your plastic surgery journey.

Remember, the referral requirement is in place to prioritise your well-being, with the intention to maintain the quality of care you receive throughout your plastic surgery experience.

Patients who forget their referral can bring it in afterwards. However, if a patient plans to see a GP after their consultation, most GPs will not backdate a referral, so best to obtain one before seeing your plastic surgeon for the first time.

Why a GP referral is important

Having a GP referral is essential documentation for patients undergoing a plastic surgery procedure.

A GP referral is required to see cosmetic surgeons for several reasons, all of which aim to prioritise patient well-being and ensure appropriate care. By requiring a GP referral, regulatory bodies aim to establish a collaborative approach among healthcare professionals involved in the patient’s care. This multidisciplinary model helps to ensure comprehensive evaluations, personalised treatment plans, and effective communication throughout the cosmetic surgery process.

Other reasons a referral is necessary

Medicare Criteria Compliance

A GP referral plays a crucial role in ensuring that plastic surgery procedures meet the specific criteria set by Medicare for eligibility of rebates. This criteria assesses the medical necessity and appropriateness of the proposed procedure. Some of the factors considered may include;

  • The severity of the condition
  • Previous attempts at non-surgical treatments
  • And other relevant medical factors.

A referral is a necessary requirement for those wanting to lodge a claim for a Medicare rebate. This referral helps verify that the patient meets the strict criteria set by Medicare for specific procedures with item numbers. Examples of such procedures include;

  • Breast Reduction Mammoplasty
  • Breast Reconstruction (and some breast augmentation mammoplasty procedures)
  • Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
  • Body Lift (Belt Lipectomy) Surgeries
  • Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Surgery)

By adhering to the requirements for Medicare item numbers and obtaining a GP referral, patients may be able to access the financial benefits provided by Medicare. This can help alleviate some of the costs associated with their cosmetic procedures. Additionally, the inclusion of a GP referral ensures that the decision to proceed with the surgery is supported by medical considerations, promoting a comprehensive and well-managed approach to the patient’s care.

It’s important to note that eligibility for Medicare item numbers may vary depending on individual circumstances and the specific guidelines set by Medicare. To determine if you qualify for a Medicare item number and the associated benefits, it’s advisable to consult both your GP and the plastic surgeon. They can assess your situation, discuss the potential medical and financial aspects, and guide you through the referral process.

Medical considerations

Procedures such as breast reduction mammoplasties, abdominoplasty surgeries, belt lipectomies, and, in some cases, breast augmentation mammoplasties may have specific medical indications beyond purely cosmetic reasons. The GP referral ensures that these procedures are performed for valid medical purposes. Medical purposes may include alleviating physical discomfort or addressing functional impairments.

Comprehensive Medical Assessment

The GP referral provides the plastic surgeon with essential information about the patient’s medical history, including existing medical conditions and ongoing medications. This enables the plastic surgeon to have a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s health status, as well as potential risks, and any specific considerations that may affect the surgical plan or post-operative care.

Coordination of Care

The involvement of the GP in the referral process promotes coordinated care and facilitates communication between the GP and the plastic surgeon. This collaboration ensures that the patient’s medical needs are appropriately addressed throughout the surgical journey, including;

  • Pre-operative assessments
  • Post-operative follow-up
  • And ongoing medical management.

The referral typically contains a summary of the patient’s medical history. This can help the plastic surgeon understand any existing medical conditions or ongoing medications.

How long is a GP referral valid?

Referrals from GPs are valid for 12 months, while referrals from other specialists are valid for 3 months.

If a patient schedules a Vectra surgery simulation, they do not need a referral. However, they will need one if they decide to book a consultation with the plastic surgeon afterwards.

Do I need a referral for non-surgical cosmetic treatments, like cosmetic volume and wrinkle treatments?

Patients do not need a referral for non-surgical treatments such as cosmetic wrinkle or volume treatments.

How much is a consultation with a surgeon with a referral?

The Plastic Surgeons at Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery Clinic charge a consultation fee of $300 (non-refundable) for your first consultation. However, a consult with Dr Stephen Kleid ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) is $600 (non-refundable).

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can either send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Specialist Plastic Surgeons and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon

With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeons are dedicated to best-practice patient care and education, customising Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

Dr Craig Rubinstein
Dr Broughton Snell
Dr Stephen Kleid
Dr Gary Kode

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001124843

Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Hawthorn East, Melbourne. With over 20 years of surgical experience especially in all areas of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, but particularly in breast surgery. These include Breast Augmentation and Breast Reduction as well as Breast Surgery Revision.

Furthermore, he believes that surgical customisation, precision planning and technical expertise help him to provide optimal surgical outcomes for his patients.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001190266

Dr Broughton Snell

Dr Broughton Snell is a Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. His training in Plastic Surgery took place in Australia and the United States of America (USA).

Dr Snell is a fully qualified specialist plastic surgeon having completed his Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon MED0001052799

Dr Stephen Kleid

Dr Stephen Kleid is an experienced Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon (Otolaryngologist) based in Melbourne with a passion for Septo-rhinoplasty, Septoplasty, as well as, a strong interest in Rhinoplasty Revision.

Dr Kleid trained at Melbourne University, then completed surgical training at various hospitals including Royal Melbourne, Royal Children’s, The Eye and Ear and St Vincents. He worked as a surgeon at the University of Florida Medical school for further experience.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001405964

Dr Gary Kode

Dr Gary Kode is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, with experience in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, as well as non-surgical treatments.

Dr Kode is a member of several organisations, including the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), The International Confederation for Plastic and Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, and he holds a Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday - Friday.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.

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