For the first time, the UK’s Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has offered guidelines on cosmetic procedures including face lifts, Botox and other injectables, and laser treatments.
In their “Professional Standards for Cosmetic Practice,” the RSC recommends that only surgeons should provide cosmetic surgery and only doctors, dentists, and nurses who have undergone appropriate training should be able to provide non-surgical cosmetic treatments.
It further advises that only qualified medical doctors should be allowed to carry out invasive procedures such as breast surgery or liposuction.
The report also takes aim at the modern phenomenon of “Botox” or “filler parties” — where a group of friends and acquaintances meet at someone’s home to receive the treatments — calling them “wholly incompatible” with professional standards.
The new guidance suggests such treatments should only be carried out on licensed premises with resuscitation equipment nearby in case of an emergency.
According to The Telegraph, present regulations mean anyone can administer filler or Botox injections.
As well as calling for more realistic photographs to be used in cosmetic surgery adverts, the recommendations say patients should be given more advice about the risks of side effects.
In addition, they advise against cosmetic surgeons telling women they will be more beautiful after a procedure or giving them unattainable expectations that they will look like celebrities or become happier.
The guidance suggests that there should be a “cooling off period” of at least two weeks between the initial consultation and the procedure to prevent impulse buying.
Perhaps controversially, the reports recommends that doctors and surgeons should consider whether patients need to be referred to a clinical psychologist before committing to a cosmetic procedure.
RCS president Professor Norman Williams said:
“While the Colleges and professional organisations involved in cosmetic practice are neither regulators nor legislators, the profession has a responsibility to provide standards to which we would expect our members to work.
“We have serious concerns that not all those who offer cosmetic procedures are adequately qualified, or that patients are getting accurate information prior to treatment.”
Response to the new guidance has been swift.
British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons president, Rajiv Grover, said:
“The marketing and advertising of cosmetic procedures is neither educating nor informing, but an exercise squarely aimed at achieving sales. This clearly puts economics ahead of patient care.”
“Although the RCS report suggests tighter control of marketing in this area with a ban on such strategies as time-limited offers, again at the Baaps we feel there is a need to go even further – the only way to fully protect the public is to have an outright ban on advertising, as seen in some European countries and which is also applicable to prescription medicines.”
The Independent quotes Dr Tony Falconer, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), as saying:
“In the case of female genital cosmetic surgery, the majority of procedures are undertaken in the private sector with little regulation. The demand for cosmetic surgery is increasing, however, there is little evidence on its long term effects.
“We are concerned about the growing number of young women opting for cosmetic gynaecological surgery as under the age of 18 the external genitalia may still be developing.”
With the demand for cosmetic surgery and non-surgical treatments rising year on year, it will be interesting to see what effect the new report has on statistics and the culture of cosmetic surgery.