Many medical and legal experts are once again focused on the cosmetic surgery industry after Kevan Jones, the member of parliament for North Durham, described the industry as “behaving like double glazing salesmen” and called for more to be done to protect the public from poor industry practice.
A review carried out in 2013 by the medical director of the NHS in England, Sir Bruce Keogh, warned that procedures being carried out such as breast implants and anti-wrinkle “fillers” could cause long-term harm but were only currently covered by the same regulation as ballpoint pens and toothbrushes. He also heavily criticised the culture of “special offers”, lack of industry qualifications and inadequate protection in place – such as those that led to industrial grade silicone breast implants being used and then rupturing in patients in 2012.
Despite the 2013 report and the number of changes that resulted from it, the Royal College of Surgeons recently pointed out that any qualified private doctor, not necessarily a surgeon, can perform cosmetic surgery behind closed doors, which constitutes an unnecessary risk and is damaging the reputation of the professional medical sector.
Kevan Jones MP said “We have here a classic example of the market – not only failing – but being used to exploit people, which is ruining their lives and costing the NHS millions of pounds per year… The whole thrust of advertising is to sell procedures without any counselling or advice on whether it is appropriate for an individual to undergo them.”
It is common for private clinics to directly market to people who have already undergone cosmetic surgery through social media and email, practices which the Advertising Standards Agency are believed to be looking into.
Cosmetic surgery, much like any surgical procedure, is not without risk, but once again the industry finds itself under the spotlight for failing to adequately mitigate those dangers. As many as 1 in 5 people are unhappy with cosmetic surgery procedures they have undergone, and some of those will have undergone unnecessary pain, potential infections and several operations to correct mistakes that were initially made. As a result, cosmetic surgery negligence claims are increasing and lawyers are increasingly having to bring to task clinics who have failed their clients through inadequate consultation, malpractice or poor standards of care.