The cosmetic surgery industry is growing year on year, yet the lack of protection for patients is of increasing concern for those plastic surgeons that do abide by the highest of standards.
This is why I welcome the recent proposals made by the Royal College of Surgeons. In 2013, after the cosmetic surgery industry had been rocked by the PIP implant scandal, the College established the Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee (CSIC), which last year published their in-depth report, Standards in Cosmetic Surgery.
Last week the College issued a statement calling for further action to implement the findings of the report, all of which I wholeheartedly approve of.
The first step of the Committee was to agree on the definition of cosmetic or aesthetic surgery and thereby the procedures it covers:
Operations and all other invasive medical procedures where the primary aim is the change, the restoration, normalisation or improvement of the appearance, the function and well-being at the request of the individual.
Cosmetic surgery proposals in-depth
The first proposal by the CSIC was that any patient undergoing cosmetic surgery should be able to check whether their surgeon is listed on an approved register.
Currently, patients can check if a surgeon is on the General Medical Council’s list of registered medical practitioners. This will also indicate if a surgeon is on the plastic surgery register; this guarantees that the surgeon will have undergone six years of plastic and reconstructive training and be qualified to hold a consultant-level position on the NHS.
However, there is no law to stop those who aren’t qualified plastic surgeons from offering cosmetic surgery as defined above.
Furthermore, matters have changed since I underwent my training on the NHS in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery. Then, many cosmetic surgery procedures fell within the remit of the Health Service, but the economic strictures it now faces has resulted in fewer ‘aesthetic’ procedures being offered, meaning future plastic surgeons will not be gaining that invaluable experience during their training.
I firmly believe the onus is on the surgeon to keep abreast of the latest developments in their field, but the proposal of the CSIC is to establish a certification system that demands surgeons meets a set of standards. These include:
- a surgeon must undertake a minimum number of procedures
- they have the appropriate professional skills to offer a specific procedure
- they submit to an audit of their surgical outcomes
As a member of BAAPS, one of the UK’s leading independent plastic surgery groups, I already undergo an annual safety audit, so I welcome this procedure being insisted on across the industry as a whole.
During consultations at my Leamington cosmetic surgery practice, I ensure patients have all the information they need regarding the procedure in question, but I also make sure they know everything they need about me. Embarking on cosmetic surgery is one of the most important decisions you can make and it’s crucial you can trust your surgeon implicitly.