Following the PIP breast implant scandal in 2011 which highlighted the health risks when plastic surgery goes wrong, a review into the regulation of cosmetic surgery procedures was commissioned.

The worries surrounding the scandal led to troubling questions concerning how unsafe products had found their way undetected into the market. It was also troubling to question why it was so difficult to trace those who had the cosmetic implants and whether vulnerable people were put under inappropriate pressure to have the cosmetic procedure.

In the past, such procedures were often undertaken discreetly, and to some extent they still are. However, cosmetic surgery has undoubtedly become more normalised and advances in technology mean that there is a growing range of interventions available (mainly non-surgical).

Unfortunately the rapid growth of the sector has made quality control difficult and existing regulations have failed to keep up with the ever increasing pace of change in the cosmetic industry.

Led by the NHS Medical Director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, an independent review of cosmetic surgery was commissioned and has recommended better regulation, better training and better redress for those who undergo cosmetic treatment.

The report recommended the main actions to ensure a more successful and safer industry:-

  • To make dermal fillers available on a prescription only basis.
  • To ensure all practitioners are qualified for the procedures that they offer, whether from more serious cosmetic surgery such as breast enlargement to other non-surgical procedures such as Botox.
  • That there should be an ombudsman to oversee all private health care.

Under current regulations, non-surgical procedures can be performed by anyone, irrelevant of their level of medical training. There is no requirement for training, knowledge or experience. Alarmingly, despite the popularity of non-surgical procedures, there is almost no regulation surrounding the practice, even though there can be major, permanent affects upon an individual.

The review highlights some of the issues due to lack of sufficient regulation:

  • An individual having a non-surgical cosmetic procedure ‘has no more protection and redress than someone buying a ballpoint pen or toothbrush’
  • Insufficient checks on the quality of products used meant that ‘most dermal fillers have no more controls than a bottle of floor cleaner’.

Many who undergo cosmetic surgery or non-surgical procedures are often vulnerable and may take safety as a given. There is a worrying, yet significant risk of individuals falling into the hands of cowboy firms aiming only to make a profit. With the advent of time-limited discounts, many individuals are pressured into signing binding contracts at the first consultation. The review strongly recommends that such agreements should be outlawed to prevent the possibility of pressure being placed upon vulnerable individuals.

Plastic surgery gone wrong – what to do next

Unfortunately a bad outcome from a cosmetic procedure does not automatically lead to a compensation claim. In some instances, the problem is not so much that the procedure was carried out negligently, rather that it was carried out at all.

Claims arising out of negligent cosmetic surgery (or other procedures) is a specialist and complex area of law. It is advisable to seek advice from injury lawyers who have expertise in cosmetic surgery claims.

At Freeclaim Solicitors, we have over 30 years’ experience in helping clients claim compensation. Our specialist solicitors are sympathetic and understand the sensitive nature of injuries caused by cosmetic surgery. You can be assured of our legal expertise and compassion.

For confidential advice, call today on 0800 612 7340 or contact our solicitors online.

Freeclaim Solicitors. Specialists in cosmetic surgery claims.

Published: 7th January 2013

Author: Rebecca Crawshaw, Trainee Solicitor