GMC urges patients to question their doctors closely before a cosmetic treatment

Following on from guidance issued in April for any doctor carrying out a cosmetic treatment, whether surgical or non-surgical, the General Medical Council (GMC) has now published advice to patients on how they can research their cosmetic provider carefully to ensure a high quality of care.

Buyer bewareGMC Cosmetic Procedures Poster

The various organisations that cover medical practitioners are working towards improving standards in the cosmetic industry, but these are elective procedures so a certain amount of responsibility falls on the patients as the choice is theirs to make. This has prompted the GMC to produce an easy-to-follow guide for patients.

Consent – the doctor who will be carrying out the procedure must be the one you see for your consultation and who gains your consent

Openness – when questioned, your doctor should be ‘open and honest’ about their skills and experience. They should also be clear if they have any conflict of interest.

Safety – your procedure must take place in a ‘safe and suitable environment’ – this includes their ability to deal with any complications that arise so ask them how these will be handled.

Marketing – the new guidance to doctors covers how they advertise themselves, specifically inducements to the patient to go ahead with a procedure. If you’re being offered a deal, then your doctor is failing to follow the standards set by the GMC so they should not be trusted to comply with other guidelines that cover your safety. Also, your doctor should be clear about the risks involved and not just sell the benefits.

Experience – ask your doctor how long they’ve been carrying out the procedure you’re interested in and what training they have undergone.

Time – every patient should be offered a ‘cool down’ period once they’ve been given all the information they need to make their decision. If your doctor pressures you into making a decision or offers you a time-sensitive deal, then walk away.

Information – clear information must be given on all aspects of your care, including aftercare and what to do if there is a complication.

Costs – before you make the decision to go ahead with a procedure, all costs should be covered clearly. Many non-surgical procedures require a number of sessions to achieve the expected results and that should be made clear to you by your practitioner.

New standards

The guidance for patients goes hand-in-hand with the guidance they issued in April to doctors. Formulated in response to the review of the cosmetic industry that was carried out by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh after the PIP implant scandal, their aim is to improve standards of safety and patient care.

The guidance covered both surgical procedures, such as breast augmentations and tummy tucks, and non-surgical treatments, including Botox which is thought to account for 39% of all aesthetic procedures performed in the UK.

The new rules for doctors came into force last month and included the following:

  • Advertising and the marketing of your services most be done responsibly, offering clear and factual information and not using any offers that could unduly influence patients in their decision-making process.
  • Patients should be allowed time to reflect on their procedure before going ahead. They should also be given all the necessary information on the possible complications as well as the benefits of going ahead with treatment.
  • Patient safety should be supported through the taking of accurate records and acting on any patient safety concerns. Involvement in programmes that monitor quality and outcome is important.

One aspect of the GMC’s guidance which I think cannot be stressed enough is that the medical practitioner ‘must recognise and work within the limits of [their] competence and refer a patient to another practitioner where [they] cannot safely meet [the patient’s] needs’.

Over the years, lack of regulation has allowed medical practitioners from all specialties to offer cosmetic procedures, regardless of their training and experience. The GMC joins with the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) who have recently released their ‘Professional Standards for Cosmetic Surgery’.

Underlining the GMC’s call for competence, the RCS have stated that all surgeons that perform cosmetic surgery should be certified in the area of cosmetic surgery that they practice and certification requires them to be in a relevant surgical specialty and to be able to demonstrate their competence and that they are keeping their skills up to date.

To arrange a cosmetic surgery consultation that upholds the guidance of both the GMC and RCS, please call 01926 436341 and speak to my secretary.

Which type of tummy tuck is best for me?

Leamington tummy tuckThe abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, is a highly popular procedure to reshape the stomach area. The aim of the abdominoplasty procedure is to create a flatter, firmer, tauter tummy, removing excess skin and fatty tissue, particularly if there is a hanging fold low down. Pregnancy, weight fluctuations and the ageing process can all have an impact on the appearance of our middle section, leaving us with stubborn pockets of fat, lack of muscle tone and sagging skin that just won’t tone up however much diet and exercise we do.

Depending on your individual needs and expectations, there are some variations to the abdominoplasty procedure. During a tummy tuck consultation at my Leamington cosmetic surgery clinic, we will discuss what you’re hoping to achieve from your procedure, but a physical assessment is essential for me to be able to advise on the most appropriate procedure for you.

Sagging skin and excess fat that extends the length of the abdomen

If you wish to flatten and firm up the abdomen both above and below the belly button, then a full tummy tuck is the ideal procedure. I will make an incision that extends from hip to hip and another incision around the tummy button (umbilicus). The skin and fatty tissue is then freed all the way up to the rib cage before pulling the skin down firmly for the excess to be removed and, coupled with removal of excess fat, produces a much flatter stomach. The umbilicus is then resited and held in place at its ‘natural’ position.

Muscle laxity

As well as removing sagging skin and excess fat, it is sometimes necessary to tighten up the abdominal wall muscles. Pregnancy, particularly multiple pregnancies, can result in a stretching of the connective tissue between our abdominal muscles, a condition known as divarication of the rectus abdominis muscles. These muscles then spread apart and women can often feel that they still look pregnant long after they have given birth.

During a tummy tuck procedure, it is possible to stitch those muscles back into place, using permanent sutures to ensure they remain in the same position. This can greatly improve the appearance of the abdomen.

A pouch underneath the belly button

Even very slim people can have a stomach pouch that no amount of diet or exercising will shift. A mini tummy tuck usually requires a shorter incision and is just for tightening the tissues in the lower abdomen.

Although a mini tummy tuck can seem an attractive option, in that it involves a shorter incision, no need to reposition the belly button and a quicker recovery time, most patients do require a full tummy tuck as a mini version can only achieve limited results and can therefore lead to disappointment.

Back fat and a muffin top

An extended tummy tuck is, as the name suggests, a more extensive version of the abdominoplasty, in that it not only removes excess skinand fat from the stomach but also from the flanks and back as well. Judicious use of liposuction may help to produce the best results.

Overweight or obese

Unfortunately, a tummy tuck is not really the right procedure for you: a tummy tuck is not primarily a weight loss option.   To produce the best results possible, you should be at or near your ideal body weight  to minimise risk and so that a good outcome can be successfully maintained afterwards.

For my information on the tummy tuck procedure or to arrange an assessment for your suitability, please call 01926 436341 to speak to one of the team or book a consultation.