The Foundation’s Body Image Program comprises:

1.     Inclusion of learning outcomes and assessments pertaining to appearance related concerns, poor body image, low self-esteem and managing the impact of these within the training curriculum for the speciality of Plastic Surgery;

2.     Development of evidence-based assessment tools, pre and post-surgery, for use in clinical consultations between patient and surgeon;

3.     Public Awareness Campaign, targeting young people, and focused on body positivity.

Quality and Safety; Patient Centred Care

Rigorous patient assessment and selection is vital to determine whether procedures/surgery are appropriate. While the patient may have an expectation of perfection, the surgery will not deliver a “miracle make-over”.

Globally, including in Australia, there is a paucity of effective and validated clinical tools for use by medical practitioners to assess the expectations of a patient considering surgery. This creates risks for both the patient as well as the practitioner.

To address this gap, Australasian Foundation for Plastic Surgery, in collaboration with Professor Emerita Nichola Rumsey PhD OBE (Immediate Past Director, Centre for Appearance Research, UWE Bristol), has developed unique pre- and post-surgery assessment questionnaires for use by surgeons for patients undertaking reconstructive and/or cosmetic surgery. 

All surgical specialties will benefit from these tools and find them of inestimable value to their practice.

Significance

Safety

  • Improvements in patient safety through appropriate assessment and selection for procedures/surgery. The assessment tools and educational materials will safeguard against the provision of procedures/surgery to those patients who have unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved by the surgery, whilst also identifying those individuals who are psychologically vulnerable and therefore more likely to have an increased likelihood of sub-optimal psychological outcomes.
  • Enhanced capacity to proactively assess, identify, divert and/or refer these patients to a range of support alternatives.

Quality

  • Patient involvement in decision making.
  • Informed consent.
  • Effectively communicate the risks and benefits of procedures/surgery.

The Patient Assessment tools (PATs) were developed using an Evidence-based framework for assessment and follow-up. The PATs are able to be completed online so that responses can be recorded directly online in the clinic using a tablet or computer.

The PATs are intended for routine use. These are generic tools which are not procedure specific. They contain questions relating to multiple psychological concepts which are relevant to a wide range of patients. 

The Patient Assessment tools (PATs) comprise of:

  • Guidance handbook for surgeons on understanding the tools and how to maximize their benefit
  • Pre-Surgery + Post-Surgery questionnaires for reconstructive procedures
  • Pre-Surgery + Post-Surgery questionnaires for cosmetic procedures

In collaboration with our partners, the Australasin Foundation for Plastic Surgery  has also developed educational material and on-line modules to facilitate enhanced professional practice for Specialist Surgeons across the board, not just Specialist Plastic Surgeons.

Public Awareness

The prevalence of body dissatisfaction is increasing yearly. Poor body image is not benign. It has been shown to predict depression, low self-esteem, unhealthy weight control and exercise behaviours, substance abuse, risky sexual behaviours and suicidal ideation.

A 24-country study found 25-61% of adolescents are dissatisfied with their bodies and many young people now turn to cosmetic surgery as a “quick fix”.

Dissatisfaction with body image is a growing issue in Australia and around the world. National surveys of young Australians aged 15-19 years consistently reveal that body image is one of the top three concerns identified by young people.

There are circumstances from which young people benefit both physically and psychologically from well considered Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The right procedure, for the right person, at the right time can yield positive results that can be life changing. However, cosmetic surgery is not a “quick fix” for young people experiencing mental health effects associated with body dissatisfaction, appearance anxiety and low self-esteem.

That’s why we are taking the lead on a new campaign to build resilience in young people and to encourage young people to think carefully about choosing surgery as a quick fix for body dissatisfaction issues.

The campaign will counter aggressive social media and/or misleading advertising and marketing about cosmetic surgery with facts, lived examples and research.