Cosmetic surgery remains a booming industry in the UK, with the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (“BAAPS”) announcing in its annual audit nearly 27,000 recorded procedures took place in 2019.
Cosmetic surgery is an operation, or invasive medical procedure, undertaken for aesthetic rather than medical reasons. For many, careful consideration is given when opting to undergo a cosmetic procedure, so it’s surprising a poll conducted for the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) revealed most patients would not check the qualification of a surgeon before consenting to an operation, as they would expect a surgeon to be “fully qualified” in the procedure they were to undertake.
Sadly, competency can be an issue.
Cosmetic procedures are rarely available through the NHS and primarily take place in the private sector. Regulation of this sector is limited. Whilst providers are expected to employ surgeons who are fully competent and revalidated with the General Medical Council (“GMC”) to practice medicine, those doctors do not need to have specific skills or advanced training qualifications in reconstructive or cosmetic procedures to undertake surgeries.
As it stands in the UK any qualified doctor is permitted to carry out cosmetic surgery.
Limited governance standards mean private patients remain largely unprotected and often when surgery “goes wrong” the NHS is left to pick up the pieces.
Under-regulated and under-legislated