New guidelines say that doctors who carry out cosmetic procedures should give patients time to think before agreeing to go ahead.
The General Medical Council (GMC) has produced the guidance to make surgical and non-surgical procedures, including facelifts, breast implants, dermal fillers and Botox, safer.
It will now consult doctors and the public about the guidance.
A report by the medical director of NHS England in 2013 highlighted the risks associated with the cosmetic sector. In January 2015, following the safety concerns after the reports that around 50,000 women in the UK had had been fitted with PIP breast implants, which were made from unauthorised silicone filler, were found to have double the rupture rate of other implants. The Royal College of Surgeons published a consultation on proposals to improve standards in cosmetic surgery.
The General Medical Council sets the standards that are expected of all doctors in the UK who carry out cosmetic procedures as well as trying to help patients understand what they should expect from their doctor.
A few of the main points in the new guidance say that doctors should:
- Be open and honest with patients and make them aware of the risks involved
- Give patients enough time and information before they decide whether to go through with a cosmetic procedure, allowing them time to “cool off”
- Not make unjustifiable claims about the results they can achieve and not give away cosmetic procedures as prizes
The chairman of the General Medical Council has said “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.”
A consultant plastic surgeon and former President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) welcomed the GMC’s guidance because some patients were said to be psychologically unsuitable for cosmetic surgery.
Baaps has been insisting on a two-week cooling-off period for many years, as well as encouraging a second consultation with a surgeon before a final decision is made. Plastic surgeons have said they were already using a two week cooling-off period before this announcement.
The final GMC guidance is expected to be published sometime in early 2016.