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April 13th 2016

Cosmetic Surgery

Tighter restrictions over cosmetic surgery industry have been long overdue to better protect patients

Helena Wood

Helena Wood

Associate, Clinical Negligence

Tighter restrictions over cosmetic surgery industry have been long overdue to better protect patients



The increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery in recent years has unfortunately not coincided with better knowledge of the possible dangers amongst patients.

No doubt fuelled by the media obsession with reporting on the latest celebrities having a ‘nip and tuck’ to keep looking their best, cosmetic procedures have increasingly become the choice for thousands of people across the UK.

The figures are astounding, as a record number of 51,000 people in Britain underwent procedures in 2015, up 13 per cent on 2014.

However, a large percentage of those people will have undergone surgery completely unaware of the loose regulations around the industry, meaning those carrying out the work are not required by law to have specialist experience in procedures they perform.

Basically, fail to do your research and ask the key questions, and you run the risk of things going wrong.

Through our work in handling cosmetic surgery compensation claims at Hudgell Solicitors, we see how negligent procedures can have the complete opposite impact on an individual’s life to what they had hoped for.

If things go wrong, a procedure which a patient chooses in a bid to give them greater confidence can actually have a hugely negative impact on their long-term health, appearance, and psychological state.

With that in mind, we certainly welcome new guidelines being introduced by the General Medical Council (GMC) to better protect patients.

It has been announced that new rules, which will cover both surgical and non-surgical procedures, will come into force in June for both private clinics and the NHS in a bid to tackle practitioners who have been putting profits before patients.

Having represented many people who have been the victims of negligent cosmetic surgery, our team of specialists at Hudgell Solicitors have seen first-hand how patients can undergo procedures completely unaware the surgeons they choose have no relevant experience.

We also see cases where the risks and implications of procedures are not fully explained to patients, who find themselves feeling rushed into committing to surgery suggested by the surgeon themselves.

Importantly, the new guidance says doctors must firstly advertise and market their services responsibly, with ‘two for one’ offers – something which is clearly aimed at tempting people into procedures they don’t really need or actually want – thankfully banned.

Patients must also be given time for reflection, ensuring they don’t feel rushed or pressured, whilst doctors and surgeons are also being told that they must seek a patient’s consent themselves, personally discussing it with their patient and not delegating the responsibility.

Full and accurate records of all consultations will also be required, whilst doctors and surgeons will also be required to provide continuity of care, meaning they must make ensure patients know who to contact and how their care will be managed if they experience any complications.

This is a key factor, as aftercare and support is something those putting profit before patients will often fail to provide, leaving patients high and dry when things do go wrong. The GMC says most doctors who do cosmetic procedures do so at a high standard, and that is certainly the case. However, it admits it does ‘sometimes come across poor practice’, warning that those who do not follow the new guidelines risk being struck off the register.

It is hoped the these new measures will put an end to botched and unethical procedures, but only by ensuring these new regulations are strictly administered will they have the desired impact towards reducing the risks in an ever-increasing area of surgery.

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