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New guidance launched on cosmetic surgery

A consultation has been launched on new guidelines aimed at all doctors who undertake cosmetic surgery. 

A cooling-off period for patients considering cosmetic surgery, and more interaction with patients on the physical and psychological effects, are included in the new proposals by the General Medical Council (GMC). 

The proposed guidelines 

Both doctors and patients will be consulted over the new guidance in a bid to make all cosmetic procedures safer.

The aim is to make clear what is expected from doctors during both surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

The changes highlighted include:

  • Greater transparency: GMC wants doctors to be more open and honest about the potential risks
  • Cooling off: Patients should be given a set period to consider whether the procedure is the right one for them
  • Effects of the procedure: Doctors should be more involved with patientsto find out what thephysical and psychological effects are and whether they are happy with the end results
  • Young people: Doctors are urged not to target people under 18 with advertising. If they are working with children, they should seek professional advice.
  • Seek consent: Doctors should talk directly with patients about consent instead of getting someone else to do it.
  • Marketing services responsibly: Any marketing should be honest about what cosmetic surgery can actually achieve. Promotions should also be avoided.

Growing market

As the cosmetic surgery market continues to grow, the GMC wants to establish a set of ground rules to make sure all patients are safely treated and not given unnecessary procedures. 

For example, patients who suffer from mental health conditions like body dysmorphia are susceptible to pressure from the media, friends and other sources to undergo surgery.

Professor Terence Stephenson, the Chair of the GMC, says it is these vulnerable patients that need better protection.


Alongside the consultation, the GMC and Royal College of Surgeons of England are seeking changes to the law to allow them to release information about which surgeons are fully skilled to carry out cosmetic surgery.

The final guidance is expected to be published in early 2016.


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