Rhinoplasty in Sydney is performed for the large part by surgeons from two different training backgrounds – Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists (Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery Specialists” and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. A small number of rhinoplasty procedures are performed by doctors who have not had training in these two specialities.
Do your research and understand what you are reading
It is always worth checking your doctor on the AHPRA website before a major procedure. This will show you in which specialist field they are registered and if there are any restrictions on their practice. It may surprise you to learn that AHPRA does not regulate which surgeons can perform rhinoplasty. Any surgeon or indeed any doctor can perform rhinoplasty as long as the hospital they work in permits them to do so.
Ear, nose and throat specialists (otolaryngologists, ENT’s) have undergone a five to six year training program through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. This involves five to six years of supervised surgical training, teaching and examinations. Australian trained otolaryngologists are well respected across the world and well trained in the treatment of all nose and sinus disorders.
Within ENT, surgeons often take a particular interest in some areas. These can include paediatrics, otology (ears), rhinology (nose and sinus), snoring, facial plastic surgery, head and neck cancer work.
Look for the letters FRACS (ORL-HNS) which stands for Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery).
Some ear, nose and throat specialists spend additional time in subspecialty training in addition to their Australian training. This is called a fellowship and is undertaken in a subspecialty area, often at an overseas institution in Europe or the United States. Rhinoplasty fellowship training can be obtained as part of some “Rhinology Fellowship” programs or as part of a “Facial Plastic Surgery” fellowship. A fellowship is usually for twelve months but can also be for shorter periods.
It is important to differentiate a true rhinoplasty fellowship from a course (often only a few days) or an observership (where the surgeon only watches another surgeon without doing their own cases). The level of training and experience obtained from a rhinology or facial plastic surgery fellowship is more comprehensive than a course or observership.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeons in Australia undergo training through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in a five year program. Look for FRACS (Plas) after their name. They have training in cosmetic and reconstructive procedures on the whole body. Some plastic surgeons have specialised more in rhinoplasty than in other plastic surgical procedures. Some plastic surgeons perform their procedures in combination with an ear, nose and throat specialist at the same time.
There are many surgical societies that surgeons will join. ENT specialists may join ASOHNS (the Australian Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery), the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the Australian Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery, the European Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery and the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. These societies co-ordinate annual conferences, journals and courses but currently there are no examinations to join and these do not serve as qualifications.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeons may join ASPS (The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons” as well as other societies.
So how do I choose a surgeon?
There are excellent rhinoplasty surgeons who have a plastic surgery background and excellent rhinoplasty surgeons who have an otolaryngology/ENT/facial plastic surgery background. Look for a surgeon who’s primary interest is in rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty is considered the most challenging facial cosmetic procedure and takes dedication on the part of the surgeon to refine skills and develop the required artistry. A good rhinoplasty surgeon will be performing at least 50-150 rhinoplasty surgeries a year.
It can be a very exciting time when planning a rhinoplasty and it is easy to get swept up in the momentum of excitement in having something fixed that has always bothered you. It is very important to take your time and to thoroughly understand the procedure, the post-post-operative recovery period and the risks involved. You should not feel rushed and may need to have two consultations with the same surgeon before the surgery, which is generally recommended.