Cosmetic surgery is a rapidly expanding - albeit almost entirely unregulated sector - offering a range of popular and widely available services such as facelifts, breast implants, dermal fillers and Botox.
The industry remains under intense scrutiny amid concerns about patient safety, particularly in regard to how services are marketed and how some patients who are psychologically unsuitable for cosmetic surgery are being exploited.
In April 2013, Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS medical director for England, published an independent review highlighting the risks associated with the cosmetic sector following concerns after nearly 50,000 women in the UK had PIP breast implants made from an unauthorised silicone filler that was found to have double the rupture rate of other implants.
In January, consultation proposals were published by the Royal College of Surgeons aimed at improving standards in the cosmetic surgery sector.
The organisation said doctors should be prevented from performing cosmetic surgery outside their speciality and called for a new system to certify surgeons for each procedure.
The GMC is an independent organisation that helps to protect patients and improve medical education and practice across the UK by setting standards for students and doctors.
The new guidance – which will be published in 2016 after proposals are put before the profession and public – will set out the standards that are to be expected of all doctors who perform both surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures in the UK. It will also aim to help patients understand what to expect from their doctor.
Some of the key points in the new guidance say that doctors should:
- be open and honest with patients and not trivialise the risks involved with any possible procedure;
- provide patients with plenty of time to decide whether a cosmetic surgery procedure is something they really want to go ahead with;
- request patients report how their cosmetic surgery procedure has affected them both physically and psychologically;
- refrain from irresponsible marketing such as targeting people under 18;
- seek patient consent themselves and not delegate responsibility;
- stop making unrealistic claims about cosmetic surgery results and stop using promotional tactics such as offering procedures as prizes.
Gill Edwards is a Senior Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
For a free consultation about how to claim compensation for botched cosmetic surgery either done in the UK or abroad, call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will call you. From outside the UK call +44 20 7657 1555