Doctors’ Carrying Out Cosmetic Procedures Urged To Be More Open and Honest With Patients

GMC Produced Guidance To Make Procedures Safer


It has been revealed today that the General Medical Council (GMC) has produced some new guidance to encourage doctors doing cosmetic surgery to be more open and honest with their patients.

The guidance states that doctors should give more time to consider the treatment they going to have and consider the implications.

The GMC want to make surgical and non-surgical procedures, such as breast implants, facelifts, Botox and dermal fillers safer for patients.

There will now be a consultation period where doctors and the general public will be asked about the new guidance.

In 2013, a report by NHS England's medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, highlighted the risks associated with the cosmetic and beauty sector.

This was closely followed by significant safety concerns after nearly 50,000 women in the UK had PIP breast implants fitted. The French implants were made from unauthorised silicone filler and were found to have doubled the rupture rate of other implants.

In January this year, the Royal College of Surgeons published a consultation on proposals to improve standards in cosmetic surgery.

The GMC sets the standards that are expected of all UK doctors who carry out cosmetic procedures. It also tries to help patients understand what to expect from their doctor or surgeon

Main points in the new guidance say that doctors should:

  • Be open and honest with patients and not trivialise the risks involved
  • Give patients enough time and information before they decide whether to have a cosmetic procedure, allowing them time to "cool off"
  • Ask patients to tell them how they have been affected by a cosmetic procedure, both physically and psychologically
  • Not target people under 18 through their marketing and seek additional advice from professionals who treat young people
  • Seek their patient's consent themselves rather than delegate it
  • Not make unjustifiable claims about the results they can achieve and not give away procedures as prizes

Prof Terence Stephenson, the chairman of the General Medical Council, said some patients in this area were vulnerable and needed protecting.

"We are clear that doctors must not pressure patients to make rushed decisions they may end up regretting and they must give them enough information so they can make an informed choice."

Rajiv Grover, consultant plastic surgeon and former President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), welcomed the GMC's guidance because he said some patients were psychologically unsuitable for cosmetic surgery.

"Cosmetic surgery has for too long been seen as a commodity but unfortunately once an operation is done - it can't be taken back to the shop."

He stated that BAAPS had insisted on a two-week cooling-off period for many years and also encouraged a second consultation with a surgeon before a decision was made.

The association is looking into developing a screening tool to help identify patients who should not have surgery.

The final GMC guidance is expected to be published in early 2016.

If you have been affected by negligent cosmetic surgery you might be entitled to claim compensation. See our Cosmetic Surgery Compensation page for more information.

Expert Opinion
This has been a long time coming in the cosmetic and beauty industry and we welcome any new guidance which helps protect patients’ safety when they are having any treatments.

“At Irwin Mitchell, we have recently developed and launched the BeautyTracker app which is now available in the app store; this has been specifically designed to allow everyone who is thinking about or having a cosmetic procedure to be able to track their journey from booking the initial appointment, researching the treatment type and recording the outcome. It can be used by patients and clinicians to keep a diary of treatments, appointments and check-ups as well as provide vital information about the procedure the patients will be having and also advice if the result is not what was expected.

“Our specialist cosmetic team has repeatedly called for significant changes in the regulation of the cosmetic and beauty industry that would not only provide improved support for people whose lives have been turned upside down by complications during surgery, and ensure lessons are learnt, but also reassures those considering treatments in the future that they will not suffer in the same way as so many have before.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner