The face of beauty has changed dramatically over the years with Australia’s cosmetic business now a billion-dollar industry.
According to statistics from the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery, Australia now has an even bigger spend on cosmetic procedures per capita than the US, with Aussie’s consuming $350 million worth of Botox procedures, having 8000 breast augmentation surgeries and 30,000 liposuction procedures.
With advances in technology and medicine, and the open (Face)book society we now live in, cosmetic surgery is no longer considered taboo like it was 20 or 30 years ago, with cosmetic surgery procedures now as common as spray tans or lash extensions.
Dr Mark Vucak is one of the most prominent plastic surgeons in Australia, and he’s based right here in Townsville – at his clinic, Queensland Plastic Surgery (QPS). He has personally witnessed the growth of the industry here in our own region.
“We’ve been lucky that our growth has increased year on year from a revenue point of view despite there being a general downturn in the economy in Townsville,” he said.
Part of the growth, Mark said, may also be due to the lack of stigma that now surrounds cosmetic procedures.
“Every day in the media we hear about it and see it, I think if anything we’ve actually seen the reverse of what we did 15 or 20 years ago, where in fact people are proud of the work they have done and are happy to talk about it,” he said.
Business is booming so much in Townsville, in fact, QPS has welcomed a new surgeon to its ranks, Dr Tristan de Chalain.
“Tristan is an old friend of mine, we did a fellowship in America together in 1993, he is very experienced and does a lot of facial work, a lot of work with skin cancer patients,” he said.
“We had the opportunity to increase our local business and asked him if he’d come work with us here in Townsville. He brings with him 25 years in private practice.”
With clinics in Townsville, Cairns, Rockhampton and Mackay, QPS treats hundreds of North Queenslanders every year. In fact, Mark and his colleague, Dr Ian Tassan, have operated on 60,000 North Queenslanders in their practice.
“Anybody can do this line of work, but it takes a long time to learn how to do it well,” Mark said.
“When you come out of plastic surgery training, because most of the work is done in a public hospital, the early focus for the first 5 to 10 years of practice is usually reconstructive so that you get good experience in microsurgery but you don’t know anything about cosmetic surgery because that’s the domain of private practice.
“Our business is different in that we don’t necessarily want to be employing the youngest men and women that come straight out of the training program because they can’t do the work yet.”
With advances in technology – stem cell treatment, fat grafting, 3D printing of moulds for body parts to suit individuals, and new imaging technology – plastic surgery is constantly changing, and the challenge for surgeons is to stay on top of the latest trends.
“We plan to merge our business with Chrysalis and have all of our skin care, lasers and procedures all in one place, we’ll have more synergy if we merge together,” Mark said.
“We have several more cosmetic doctors in the pipeline who we are training and will join us so we can offer a broader range of laser services: skin care, derma logical examination and non-surgical treatments.”
Mark said the biggest plastic surgery trend in the US that he expected to see here, was body contouring after weight loss surgery.
“This January 32 gastric sleeves were done in Townsville and a large number of these patients will come to us following their weight loss for tummy tucks, breast reductions, face lifts, arm surgery, thigh reductions and so forth.
“That’s a big part of our practice now and I think that will only get bigger.”