New cosmetic surgery regulations announced: CQC to rate clinics

CQC ratings of plastic surgery clinicsSince Sir Bruce Keogh carried out a review of the cosmetic surgery industry, published in 2013, that called for a greater need of regulation, various initiatives have been announced.

Now, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has declared that, in pursuit of greater transparency, the powers of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be extended to rate cosmetic surgery clinics.

The CQC currently monitors and inspects healthcare facilities in the UK and, up till now, has provided ratings for NHS Trusts, independent hospitals and GP surgeries. The aim is to expand this to cosmetic surgery providers to improve patient safety; the ratings encompass ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ and, finally, ‘inadequate’.

Hunt was quoted as saying: “Anyone who chooses to have a cosmetic procedure should have high quality and safe care – and that’s why we have a tough regulator in place to help people make an informed decision.”

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), of which I’m a member, is the largest independent association representing plastic surgeons issued a comment on this new announcement: “We welcome, indeed, have been calling for during the last decade – as much Government scrutiny as is possible of the cosmetic sector. This is an arena where regulation has historically been lax and many practitioners can engage in procedures they are not trained or even qualified to perform.”

However, there was a caveat to their support; the CQC regulates clinics rather than the surgeon and focuses on such aspects as equipment and record-keeping. As important as those aspects are, the most important decision you can make when about to undergo cosmetic surgery is your choice of surgeon.

Choosing the right cosmetic surgeon

Before going ahead with an op, then you have to ascertain whether your surgeon has the relevant qualifications and experience:

  • All medical practitioners practicing in the UK should be on the register of the General Medical Council (GMC). Furthermore, the register will indicate whether they are qualified as a plastic surgeon which means they have undergone years of specialist training in plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgical procedures.
  • Whilst the younger generation of Plastic Surgeons have had to take an exit specialty exam at the end of their training (since 1996) for which they will have the qualification FRCS(Plast) added after their name, I completed my formal training in Plastic Surgery before then through a rigorous system termed Accreditation of The Royal Colleges of Surgeons. This was the same as the modern approval and Plastic Surgeons of my experience and seniority therefore simply have FRCS after their name, despite having that much more experience and having in fact taught the younger generation of surgeons much of what they know*. Confirmation of my full standing is reflected in my place on the General Medical Council Specialty Register in Plastic Surgery, which you can quite easily check, my GMC number being 1545391.
  • Currently, holds or has held a position as a consultant plastic surgeon in the NHS, which conveys at least some (see above and below) practical experience in performing cosmetic surgery procedures. I led, expanded and developed the Plastic Surgical Service for Coventry & Warwickshire over 20 years and was its Director for 10.
  • They are a member of one of the independent plastic surgery associations in the UK, such as the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (BAAPS) or British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS). I am a Member of both.

During your consultation your surgeon should be very clear on their experience, qualifications and suitability to perform cosmetic surgery. To arrange a cosmetic surgery consultation at my Leamington Spa, Coventry or Rugby clinics, call 01926 436341.

* It is relevant to add that at the time of my training, very much more (perfectly justifiable) Cosmetic Surgery was carried out on the NHS, compared to the current very low levels owing to financial pressures, and I therefore received a much more comprehensive training in Cosmetic Plastic Surgery and over a longer period than is available to trainees today. The breadth and depth of that training, built on and updated over the years, has stood me in very good stead in the cosmetic aspect of my Practice.

How to avoid cosmetic surgery regret

Courteney Cox cosmetic surgery regretsFriends’ actress Courteney Cox was recently quoted across the UK media saying she regretted some of the steps she’d taken to combat the ageing process. Living in the harsh glare of Hollywood, she felt she’d had no choice but to undergo anti-ageing treatments to look more youthful.

Non-surgical treatments vs cosmetic surgery

Although the press described the procedures as cosmetic surgery, Courteney’s exact quote was that “luckily there are things that dissolve and go away. So that’s good because it’s not always been my best look.” This seems to indicate that, rather than a surgical procedure, Ms Cox is discussing non-surgical treatments and, in particular, hyaluronic acid dermal fillers.

Understandably, many men and women are keen to undergo a minimally invasive procedure as they often promise fantastic anti-ageing results with none of the downtime or risk of complications of a surgical operation.

However, I believe that it is essential to approach non-surgical procedures with a healthy dose of caution. Performed by a less than experienced and skilled practitioner, you can end up with too much filler, injected into the wrong place, and be left with the dreaded ‘trout pout’ or ‘pillow face’. Although it is possible to dissolve the hyaluronic acid with a product called hyaluronidase, patients can still be left deeply unhappy with their results.

How can I avoid a bad plastic surgery result?

If you’re contemplating a cosmetic surgery procedure, whether it’s to improve body contours, reverse the signs of ageing or enhance or correct a feature that you’ve always felt self-conscious about, then there are a number of steps you can take to ensure your procedure is as safe and successful as possible.

1. Be clear about why you want surgery

It is important to be clear about what you’re hoping to achieve from your cosmetic surgery procedure and that you’re doing it for you and no one else. During your Leamington cosmetic surgery consultation, I will discuss with you your expectations and reasons for surgery.

2. Understand what the procedure entails

The internet can be a valuable resource, but it can also be full of misleading information. I always advise prospective cosmetic surgery patients to keep an open mind before they arrive for their consultation. Then we can cover every aspect of the procedure, from before, during the operation and through the all-important recovery process.

3. Be realistic

Your cosmetic surgery procedure will not be able to magically transform you into someone else or make you look twenty again; a good cosmetic surgeon can enhance your features or make you look rested and rejuvenated, but the aim should always be to produce natural results.

4. Choose your surgeon wisely

A plastic surgeon is a medical practitioner that has spent many years specialising in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery, so check that they are registered on the General Medical Council’s website as a plastic surgeon. Another invaluable resource are the leading independent plastic surgery associations – BAAPS and BAPRAS – of which I am a member. They perform annual safety audits of their members and only admit practitioners that have the correct qualifications.

5. Take your time

I urge my patients have a two-week cooling off period after their initial consultation and I offer a free second consultation before surgery. Whilst the initial consultation is very detailed and not rushed and backed up by an extremely comprehensive letter detailing the consultation so that this can be read and fully understood at home, a second consultation is always available to make sure all anxieties and queries have been addressed. Rushing into such an important decision is often one of the main reasons for regret.

To arrange a consultation at my Leamington Spa, Coventry or Rugby clinics, call 01926 436341.