Government seeks views on cosmetic surgery

Behind the Headlines

Wednesday August 15 2012

How will the cosmetic surgery industry look in 10 years?

A “major cosmetic surgery review” has been launched, The Daily Telegraph has reported. It added that the industry faces “tough new regulations over fears that patients are being misled over the safety of procedures”.

The news – picked up in most of the print, broadcast and online media – is based on a government announcement of a “call for evidence” as part of an ongoing review of cosmetic surgery and other cosmetic procedures. Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director, is leading the review.

The government announcement was accompanied by an opinion poll of 1,762 people which found that only half took into account the qualifications of the person treating them when deciding on cosmetic surgery. Those polled also said they were less likely to have cosmetic surgery following the news about PIP implants.


What is the government doing about cosmetic procedures?

A team of surgeons, physicians, campaigners and journalists are helping Professor Keogh to gather evidence and make recommendations to the government. The review is considering:

  • regulation and safety of products used in cosmetic procedures
  • regulation of the skills and qualifications of people who carry out procedures
  • how to ensure that organisations that do cosmetic procedures are able to look after their patients during their treatment and afterwards
  • what information and advice patients need to make an informed choice – including “time for reflection”
  • how to improve complaints processes so that complaints about cosmetic procedures are listened to and acted upon
  • the introduction of a national implant register, for products such as breast implants and other medical devices

The government wants the public to share their views on these issues and their experiences of the cosmetic surgery industry and cosmetic procedures.


Why is this cosmetic industry review happening now?

The Department of Health says that the review is in response to concerns raised about the industry following problems with PIP breast implants. The review was set up in January 2012 as part of the government’s response to the emerging problems with the PIP implants. This new announcement highlights a call for evidence from the public.

Professor Keogh said: “The recent problems with PIP breast implants have shone a light on the cosmetic surgery industry.”

He continued: “I am concerned that too many people do not realise how serious cosmetic surgery is and do not consider the lifelong implications – and potential complications – it can have.

“We want to hear views from everyone, particularly people who have experience of the cosmetic surgery industry or of other cosmetic interventions – good and bad – so we can learn what works best.”


When will cosmetic industry regulation change?

Professor Keogh’s review group is set to publish its conclusions by March 2013. However, any recommended changes to regulation of the cosmetic surgery industry are likely to take longer to come into effect, due to the need to consult with interested groups.


Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on twitter.

Edited by NHS Choices

Links to the headlines

War on cosmetic surgery cowboys: Tough rules to stop rogue clinics aggressively exploiting women. Daily Mail, August 15 2012

Review into money-off deals for cosmetic surgery. The Independent, August 15 2012

Plastic surgery rules rethink. ITV News, August 15 2012

Cosmetic surgery views sought after breast implant scare. BBC News, August 15 2012

Cosmetic surgery procedures: NHS director leading safety review. The Guardian, August 15 2012

Major review into cosmetic surgery launched. The Daily Telegraph, August 15 2012 

Further reading

Department of Health: Review of the regulation of cosmetic interventions (PDF, 431kb). August 2012.


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