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GPs should be told when patients have cosmetic surgery

Protection when having dermal fillers no better than for pens and toothbrushes

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Doctors and others have condemned the current lack of regulation of cosmetic procedures, and said that “dermal fillers are a crisis waiting to happen”. They have demanded an overhaul of the legislation – and want providers to be obliged to send proper records to both clients and their GPs when they undergo a surgical cosmetic procedure.

The group behind the Review of the Regulation of Cosmetic Interventions, published this morning, was asked by the Department of Health to investigate surgical procedures, such as tummy tucks, facelifts and breast implants, as well as non-surgical procedures such as dermal fillers, Botox or the use of laser or intense pulsed light.

They raised particular concerns that anyone can set themselves up as a practitioner, with no knowledge, training or experience, and that product quality checks for dermal fillers are no better than they are for household cleaning products.

They said in their final report: “We were surprised to discover that non-surgical interventions, which can have major and irreversible adverse impacts on health and wellbeing, are almost entirely unregulated. In fact, a person having a non-surgical cosmetic intervention has no more protection and redress than someone buying a ballpoint pen or a toothbrush.”

The review committee pointed out that self-regulation of the industry – worth £2.3bn in the UK in 2010, estimated to rise to £3.6bn by 2015 – has failed, allowing unscrupulous and unsafe practitioners to continue in practice. They have demanded that action is taken to protect consumers, and that a new legislative framework is put in place for both surgical and non-surgical interventions.

They recommend that:

  • All those performing cosmetic interventions must be registered.
  • Health Education England’s mandate should include the development of appropriate accredited qualifications for providers of non-surgical interventions and determine accreditation requirements for the various professional groups; to be completed in 2013.
  • Surgical providers should send both the person undergoing a procedure, and their GP, clear operative records of the surgery and precise details of any device or implant used.
  • A breast implant registry should be established within the next 12 months and extended to other cosmetic devices as soon as possible, to provide better monitoring of patient outcomes and device safety.
  • The EU Medical Devices Directive’s scope should be extended to include all cosmetic implants including dermal fillers, which should be classified as a prescription-only medical device.
  • The Royal College of Surgeons should establish an Interspecialty Committee on Cosmetic Surgery, to set standards for cosmetic surgery practice and training, and make arrangements for formal certification of all surgeons regarded as competent to undertake cosmetic procedures.

The committee also called for improved patient information and consent procedures, prohibition of financial inducements and time-limited deals to promote cosmetic interventions, and accessible resolution and redress when things go wrong.

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