Plastic Surgeon Training & Qualifications in Australia

Last updated: 12 December 2017

Outlined here are the basic principles pertaining to the specialty of plastic and reconstructive surgery in Australasia.

What does it take to become a qualified plastic surgeon?

Plastic surgeons undertake training with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and specialise in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

The training process involves:

  • A competitive selection process
  • A primary examination
  • Training courses provided by the RACS
  • Compulsory research
  • And after a period of 5-6 years – a final examination

Training in plastic and reconstructive surgery may involve 2 years of general surgery followed by 4 years of specialised training in plastic surgery.

Following completion of surgical training time, and having completed the RACS examinations to attain the fellowship FRACS (Plast). Fellows of the College typically undertake a further 1-2 years of semi-supervised training in their particular subspecialty area of interest.

Plastic surgeon qualifications

  • FRACS (Plast) – Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons with specialised training in Plastic Surgery
  • FRCS Plast – Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in England with specialised training in Plastic Surgery
  • FACS – Fellow of the American College of Surgeons
  • FRCS – Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • FRCS (Ed) – Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • FRCS (Glas) – Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Glasgow 
  • FRCSI – Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

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Plastic surgery associations, societies and foundations

Qualified surgeons often belong to a number of ‘surgical societies‘. In general these associations have an educational and consolidative role and hold clinical meetings and discussion groups for the benefit and interest of members.

The societies do not usually examine the expertise of their members but may exclude those who have minimal or no training or expertise.

ASPS – Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons

  • Not-for-profit professional association representing plastic surgeons in Australia.
  • Members must be Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, have completed specialist surgeon training in plastic surgery and must adhere to a strict code of ethics.
  • Member surgeons of the ASPS adhere to a strict code of conduct
  • ASPS manages the Breast Implant Registry as an Official Quality Assurance Activity

NZAPS – New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons

  • Not-for-profit professional association representing plastic surgeons in New Zealand
  • The association accepts as members only Surgeons who hold the Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) or an equivalent qualification in Plastic Surgery
  • Currently has around 35 members

ASAPS – Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons

  • Not-for-Profit professional association.
  • Devoted to maintenance of excellent ethical and professional standards within the field and the provision of information to all interested parties.

NZFCPS – New Zealand Foundation for Cosmetic Plastic Surgery

  • Members are RACS trained plastic surgeons with a particular interest in cosmetic surgery.
  • Cosmetic surgery forms a large part of their surgical practice

The aims of both ASAPS and the New Zealand Foundation are ongoing education of its members, peer review, quality control and the education of the general public about cosmetic surgery.

Both are attempting to influence government and the Ministry of Health in setting appropriate surgical standards to protect people who have cosmetic surgery, either in New Zealand or Australia.

Other organisations of which a plastic surgeon may hold membership, fellowship with, include:

  • ASPS – American Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • ASAPS – American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
    • Board-certified plastic surgeons specialising in cosmetic plastic surgery.
    • Active-Members of the ASAPS are plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • BAPRAS – British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons
    • Full membership requires the surgeon to be listed on the Specialist Register of Plastic Surgery in the UK and hold or has held any consultant appointment working as a plastic surgeon in the National Health Service




This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.

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