From 1 July 2023, patients considering cosmetic plastic surgery such as breast augmentations will all need to obtain a GP referral.

New AHPRA guidelines will require patients interested in cosmetic surgery to obtain a referral from their general practitioner (GP) or specialist. The aim of these guidelines is to minimise the chances of patients being exploited by practitioners.

These reforms pertain to medical practitioners who offer services in two specific categories:

  • Cosmetic surgery, which involves incisions made beneath the skin for procedures like breast augmentation, facelifts, liposuction, and
  • Non-surgical cosmetic procedures, that involve skin punctures but no incisions made beneath it, such as injectables, thread lifts, and laser treatments.

Under the reforms, patients seeking cosmetic surgery will need a referral from their GP.

AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) has stated that it is important for patients to have a discussion with their GP about their reasons for seeking cosmetic surgery, as the GP has the best knowledge of their medical history.

Why a GP referral is important:

  • A referral from a general practitioner (GP) can provide several benefits, including a Medicare rebate of just over $75 after a consultation with the plastic surgeon.
  • A GP referral is also required for private health insurance to contribute to the cost of eligible surgery.

 Why do I need a referral from a GP?

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

In addition to the financial benefits, a GP referral is required for procedures with Medicare item numbers such as breast reductions, lifts, tummy tucks, and body lifts.

Some breast augmentation patients may also qualify for a Medicare item number.

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, but 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 fillers and injectables?

Patients do not need a referral for non-surgical treatments such as cosmetic injections.

For purely cosmetic procedures such as breast augmentations on “normal breasts,” a referral may not be technically necessary. However, a referral can still provide general information about the patient’s medical health, which could include a partial Medicare rebate they weren’t aware of.

What happens from 1 July 2023?

If a patient does not have their referral on the day of their appointment, they cannot claim the Medicare rebate and will not be eligible for Medicare rebates for surgery.

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.

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

A Plastic Surgeon at Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery Clinic charges a fee of $300 for your first consultation or $600 if it is with Dr Stephen Kleid.

Patients who bring a GP referral with them on the day of their appointment, or have it sent in advance, will receive a rebate of just over $75 from Medicare.

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 to Friday.