Dr Amira Sanki On The State Of Aesthetic Surgery In Australia

Is it truly taking a turn for the better?

Following the resounding success of previous conferences, the 2023 ASAPS Conference was recently held as their 45th annual instalment, hosted at luxurious Langham Hotel on the Gold Coast.

Designed exclusively for Specialist Plastic Surgeons, plastic surgery registrars, and plastic surgery clinic staff, this premier event aimed to shape the future of the field by fostering excellence in both practice and patient care, through delivering the latest advancements, techniques, and insights in aesthetic surgery.

Topics ranging from HR matters and social media guidance to patient management and customer satisfaction enhancement aimed to equip attendees with actionable insights to elevate their practice’s success.

For the first time, the ASAPS conference also offered a Practice Nurses stream, acknowledging the important work that nurses perform in the plastic surgery patient’s journey. Plastic surgeons walked through the patient journey from marking up, to post operative recovery, for the most commonly performed aesthetic procedures.

In addition, the Nurses Program included managing patients with difficult expectations, how to take good clinical photos, complex wound and scar management, and myth-busting compression wear, medical massage and dietary supplements.

Dr Amira Sanki is not only Vice President at ASAPS, but was among many respected presenters at the conference, and we had the delight to discuss her viewpoints following the conference on how the aesthetic surgery sector is travelling into the future, onwards.

Dr Sanki, starting with a bit of a loaded question, but how are you feeling about the state of cosmetic surgery in Australia now, considering all the legal changes that have happened in the past few months?

Actually I feel really positive about the changes. Nobody likes change and of course change takes time and money to introduce, but, I see that ASAPS members have adapted quickly and we are now seeing benefits to some of these changes such as standardisation of before and after images on social media. What’s good for patients is good for everyone.

Are you still working closely with AHPRA on the guidelines, and might there be a review of certain rules soon, now that we have seen them in practice for a few months?

While we were very disappointed that the ASAPS submission to AHPRA regarding the new guidelines was largely ignored, we are impressed that AHPRA is happy to take our feedback about the guidelines.

We were happy to host Jason McHeyzer at the meeting, and hope that we can constructively convey the components of the guidelines that aren’t working to improve patient flow and outcomes.

The ASAPS Annual Conference is a great learning opportunity – why is it so important, even for the most skilled Plastic Surgeons, to attend conferences like this?

Humility is an important attribute in a surgeon. We have to be aware that there is always something new for us to learn or something that we can incorporate into our practices to improve our outcomes. Never stop learning!

For the first time, a nurse stream was introduced, what was the motivation behind this decision?

We work with nurses every day- in theatres and in our rooms. They are critical in caring for our patients at every stage of the journey. To help ensure that they are offering the best service for our patients, we thought it was important to offer education that is specifically aimed at our practice and theatre nurses.

It also helps our practice nurses understand what happens in theatre and our theatre nurses understand what happens in the rooms. 

What were some highlights from the conference or things you learned?

The highlight for me was the opening Leadership Symposium which threw questions about leadership to our three international guest surgeons and ASAPS President, Tim Edwards as well as AVANT CEO, Natasha Fenech. The session highlighted that all surgeons, of both genders, of all nationalities suffer the same problems and can learn so much from each other.

What are some of the challenges Specialist Plastic Surgeons are facing at the moment, and how is ASAPS working to resolve this?

Our challenge now is to continue negotiating better cosmetic surgery guidelines for our patients by open discussion with the regulators. I think the best way to support our arguments is to provide statistics and information, so we will be helping AHPRA to get this information by rallying a large membership to properly report poor patient outcomes from local and international surgery.

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