It is estimated that in 2011 there were 669,711 surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures carried out in the UK and it is considered that there are approximately 200,000 anti-wrinkle injections, including Botox and fillers carried out in the UK each year. Yet remarkably many of the non-surgical procedures, such as laser treatment, Botox and other injectables, are carried out by people with no medical training whatsoever and often in peoples’ own homes. Many of us will have seen the devastating damage that can be caused by these procedures on television but sadly the regulation of this industry remains poor and allows these treatments to continue without safeguard.
Following the PIP breast implant scandal, the NHS director, Sir Bruce Keogh, was assigned to carry out a review into the regulation of cosmetic interventions, including cosmetic surgery. The review aims to provide recommendations to government on the appropriate arrangements required to ensure that patients are protected when considering any cosmetic treatment. In line with this, the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) have this week issued a new set of Professional Standards for Cosmetic Practice which it is hoped will be taken into account in Sir Keogh’s review.
One of the key proposals from the RCS is that only doctors, dentists or nurses with appropriate training are allowed to perform such cosmetic treatments in order to prevent unqualified non-medics from providing them. They also recommend that they should only be provided in a registered clinic where resuscitation equipment is available in the event of an emergency. If implemented this would put an end to the “Botox parties” where people are tempted to take advantage of the cheap prices with the promise of making them look ‘better’ or ‘younger’ but where serious injury can be caused.
The RCS also suggest that treatment providers manage their client’s expectations correctly by no longer implying that the treatment will make the patient look or feel better. They want an end to time limited offers and an introduction of a cooling off period after initial consultations to ensure that people are properly thinking about the treatment and not rushing into it impulsively or feeling pressured into having it. They would also like consideration of whether a potential patient needs referring to a clinical psychologist before having the procedure to ensure that historical issues, for example eating disorders are addressed.
Cosmetic surgery, as with any surgery, carries a significant risk and it is important that it is properly regulated to prevent serious but avoidable injuries being suffered. The less invasive treatments carry just as serious a risk. Injections like Botox can have serious consequences such as facial paralysis or anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) which can result in death if not treated properly. In light of this, it is shocking that absolutely anyone can currently administer them and proper regulation is most certainly welcomed.
Harris Fowler has a team of specialist personal injury solicitors who can advise anyone who has suffered an injury or illness following cosmetic surgery and treatments. Free and confidential legal advice is available on 0800 213 214 or visit harrisfowler.co.uk
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