New guidelines released for cosmetic procedures

12 Apr 2016 | Comment

The General Medical Council has imposed new guidelines for practitioners carrying out cosmetic procedures.

The guidelines, which aim to impose higher safety standards and clamp down on rogue surgeons who put profit before patients, could see doctors who break the rules struck off.

Under the guidelines the practitioner carrying out the cosmetic procedure must fully explain to patients the risks involved with the surgery and who they can contact if they experience any complications. Aggressive sales tactics such as two for one offers are also banned.

The guidelines are a response to Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of the industry following the PiP breast implant scandal in 2013. Keogh’s report found “A person having a non-surgical cosmetic intervention has no more protection and redress than someone buying a ballpoint pen or a toothbrush”.

Professor Terence Stephenson, Chair of the GMC stated “Our new guidance is designed to help drive up standards in the cosmetic industry and make sure all patients, and especially those who are most vulnerable, are given the care, treatment and support they need.”

The guidelines will outline best practice for both surgical and non-surgical procedures including breast implants, facelifts and Botox injections.

Under the new rules practitioners carrying out cosmetic surgery must:

  • Advertise and market their services responsibly – advertising must be clear and not use promotional tactics such as two for one or prize offers.
  • Give patients time for reflection – patients must have enough time and information about the risks of the procedure before deciding to go ahead.
  • Seek patients consent themselves – responsibility for explaining the procedure and associated risks to the patient lies with the doctor carrying out the procedure and must not be delegated.
  • Provide continuity of care – the doctor must let patients know how their care will be managed and who to contact if they experience complications
  • Support patient safety – doctors must keep records of consultations and act on any patient safety concerns.

Mark Harvey, the lead solicitor in the PiP breast implants case, has welcomed the guidelines.

“ The introduction of guidelines to safeguard patients  is long overdue. I have recovered millions of pounds of compensation for patients who received faulty breast implants, but there are still some clinics avoiding their duty of care.  Patients should be able to rest assured that the cosmetic procedure they are having is the right one and that they will receive the best possible care both during and after the procedure.”


Disclaimer: The information set out above is for general information only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such.  It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.

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