Plastic Surgery, Cosmetic Surgery, And Cosmetic Procedures – What’s The Difference and How Are They Policed?
Plastic surgery is a highly specialised surgical procure used to repair the skin. It attempts to restore the appearance and functionality of skin damaged by:
- abnormalities present at birth,
- burns or injuries sustained in an accident
- the removal of cancerous tissue
In the UK, most patients who require plastic surgery to rectify a medical condition are referred to a plastic surgeon by their GP and the work is most frequently undertaken on the NHS. Plastic surgeons in the UK receive specific and accredited training in the techniques required to perform successful plastic and reconstructive surgery. If you’re based in or near Glasgow, you can visit Dr Darren McKeown, for example.
Cosmetic surgery is a type of surgery that someone elects to have because they want to change their appearance. They want to achieve an aesthetic outcome, i.e. they want to improve their appearance.
Qualified physicians from different areas of medicine can train in cosmetic surgery techniques. They do so to provide a service to those who would like to change their appearance and who are prepared to pay (handsomely) for the privilege. Cosmetic surgeons focus on achieving aesthetic outcomes for their clients. Cosmetic surgery is not available on the NHS and is carried out solely in the private sector.
Non-surgical cosmetic procedures. Examples of non-surgical cosmetic treatments include Botox injections, dermal fillers and chemical peels.
Recent years have seen a surge in the numbers of people undergoing cosmetic procedures. This type of treatment is more accessible because of its relative affordability when compared to cosmetic surgery.
The increased demand for non-surgical procedures has in no small part been fuelled by social media platforms where filters are used to enhance the user’s appearance when they post a selfie. A University of Surrey study revealed young women who spend many hours on social media sites such as Instagram are more likely to turn to cosmetic procedures than those who don’t. Cosmetic treatment can make permanent, the effects enhancement filters can only achieve in a digital world!
Is the cosmetic treatment industry regulated?
Surgeons who carry out cosmetic surgery are regulated by the General Medical Council (GMC). Private clinics where invasive cosmetic surgery is carried out fall to be regulated under the Care Standards Act 2000, and registered establishments are inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
However, the complete absence of any regulation whatsoever led to an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) investigating the non-surgical cosmetic treatment industry in 2019. The subsequent report produced by the committee in July 2021 concluded that the Government needed to take urgent action to introduce regulation.
Why is it so crucial that the cosmetic procedure industry becomes regulated?
Worries about young people becoming obsessed and anxious over trying to achieve unachievable appearance ideals have abounded for many years, with a report in the Guardian in 2017 declaring that the ‘largely unregulated cosmetic surgery industry (is) a cause for concern.” Since then, little has changed in terms of regulation. However, the popularity of relatively affordable cosmetic surgery procedures such as fillers and Botox has increased exponentially. So too has the number of dissatisfied cosmetic procedure clients who have been contacting personal injury solicitors, like Mooneerams, intending to make botched cosmetic treatment compensation claims
The APPG’s report made a total of 17 recommendations intended to fill the regulatory gap that exists currently. These included:
- Setting minimum practitioner trading standards
- Forcing cosmetic procedure practitioners to hold a nationally recognised certificate
- Making fillers available only by prescription
- Making pre-screening of customers compulsory
- Extending the ban on Under18s to include invasive aesthetic treatments
- Bringing in restrictions on the advertising of dermal fillers as well as other invasive treatments
- Ensuring social media providers do more to prevent misleading adverts and posts promoting cosmetic treatments.
The co-chairs of the All-Party Group, Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP, were reported as saying:
“We strongly urge the Government to implement the recommendations in our report and take action to improve the situation for the benefit of the industry and public safety. Maintaining the status quo is simply not an option.”
For more information regarding cosmetic surgery claims, contact Mooneerams Solicitors.
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