UK & World News
Cosmetic Surgery Industry Faces Overhaul
The NHS chief tasked with carrying out a Government review into the cosmetic surgery industry says he aims to raise standards and target "grubby practices".
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director at the NHS, was asked by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to examine whether the industry needs tighter control following the PIP breast implant scandal.
Sir Bruce will also look at whether people have enough information before deciding to have surgery, and whether they have received the right aftercare.
An estimated 47,000 British women are thought to have had PIP implants, which tests showed were filled with non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses.
NHS experts also found the implants were twice as likely to rupture as other brands.
Sir Bruce told Sky News: "We had trouble contacting women that had had breast implants because there was no central record of who had had what. And women who had undergone a procedure in good faith found themselves high and dry when things went wrong."
Talking about the industry as a whole, he added: "The consumer can reasonably expect that whatever is being put into them meets a certain standard.
"Also they have a right that whoever is putting it in is adequately qualified and properly trained, and they can expect there is a regulatory environment that assures that the first two practices are happening."
He pointed out that there are some parts of the industry that function in a very responsible, ethical way but there are "some pretty grubby practices".
Sir Bruce said he was concerned about people winning surgery in raffles, discounts for introducing friends, a buy one-get-one-free attitude and some "pretty hard core advertising".
He said people need to be given "proper information and proper time to digest that information".
He also said: "I am concerned that too many people do not realise how serious cosmetic surgery is and do not consider the life-long implications - and potential complications - it can have."
Mr Lansley has asked that the review considers a national implant register, making it routine practice for surgeons to register all devices - from breast implants to hip replacements.
The register could be used to detect trends and identify individual patients. Clinics could also be required to join a scheme similar to that run by the travel industry, meaning patients would have protection if a company went bust.
The review could also recommend a tightening of the rules on anti-ageing dermal fillers. At the moment, they only require basic safety checks and can be legally injected by anyone.
A minimum training requirement for cosmetic surgeons could also be introduced. A new ComRes survey found that 45% of women who said they would have considered surgery before the scare, now said they were less likely to have it.
The body which represents plastic surgeons has backed better regulation.
Fazel Fatah, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), said: "We would like the review to take this opportunity to draw a clear line between cosmetic treatments that are seen as a commodity and cosmetic surgery that is serious medical treatment which must be provided by fully trained and qualified surgeons."