No more bodged botox

The Department of Health has outlined various new interventions to protect patients undergoing cosmetic surgery.

Following a critical report into cosmetic surgery and patient safety by the Department of Health (DH) last year, the governing body has published new regulations to increase the protection for patients opting for cosmetic procedures.

The review was undertaken last year after the industry was described as “a crisis waiting to happen”, with the DH today confirmed it will be accepting the “overwhelming majority” of recommendations made to ensure patients are not left vulnerable.

Work is already underway to implement certain recommendations including creating a breast implant register to ensure woman can be kept informed of any news and be recalled for treatment if necessary. This is in response to the recent scandal resulting from faulty breast implants, with clinicians unable to contact women who were affected.    

The DH has also charged the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) to create an inter-speciality committee to ensure cosmetic surgery standards are maintained. The RCS will also work with the General Medical Council on the creation of an ethical code of conduct for all those practicing cosmetic surgery.

Introduction of a code of conduct will go some way to answer the criticism that the interplay between commercial imperatives at private clinics and doctor’s ethics is responsible for slips in standards.

Michael Saul, a solicitor who has represented a number of patients with cosmetic surgery cases, said: “The big problem at the heart of it is the conflict between the commercial imperative of the clinic and the ethical duty of the doctor – the balance is often very wrong.”   

Another recommendation from the report already in the pipeline is a review by Health Education England on the training of providers of some non-surgical procedures, such as botox and dermal filler injections.

In his foreword to the report, the under secretary of state for health Dr Dan Poulter had harsh words for the cosmetic industry, saying “at worst, this is an industry that is exploiting people’s insecurities, driven only be profits and with no regard to the physical and mental wellbeing of the patients.”

In addition to the changes to protect patients that will take place following the review, the government also plan a body confidence campaign to “support increased resilience to low-body image and more informed and confident decision-making”.