UK Plastic Surgeons Demand Greater Regulation

Big Ben UkBritish plastic surgeons are calling for tightened regulations on the country’s plastic surgery industry in the aftermath of the French breast implant scandal. Proposed measures include a ban on cosmetic surgery advertising, annual checks on practitioners, and tighter controls on breast implants and injectable substances.

Roughly 40,000 British women received breast implants manufactured by PIP, the now-defunct company that substituted industrial-grade silicone for medical-grade silicone. Doctors and politicians in the UK are still debating what that means in terms of future action. One thing, however, is certain: there is a growing consensus that the plastic surgery industry has gone awry with a “wild west” mentality.

According to Fazel Fatah, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS):

“We have warned against the unrealistic expectations set by reality ‘makeover’ shows and against crass competition prizes promising ‘mummy makeovers’ and body overhauls. In no other area of surgery would one encounter two-for-one offers. The pendulum has swung too far.”

In response to these issues, BAAPS has proposed a six-point plan to counter the rogue practices that have been on the rise in the UK:

  1. Ban all advertising for cosmetic procedures. In the UK, prescription medications may not be advertised, and BAAPS argues that the same logic applies to cosmetic medical procedures. (The Independent Healthcare Advisory Service, an industry body, opposes a ban and argues in favor of responsible and ethical advertising.)
  2. Establish an implant registry to track all types of silicone implants. This would help in any future cases like the PIP debacle.
  3. Reclassify dermal fillers as medicines. While less than a dozen fillers are approved by the FDA in the US, British regulations allow more than 100 different types of fillers to be marketed with minimal standards.
  4. Compulsory registration of practitioners in aesthetic medicine and lasers.
  5. Mandatory annual safety audits for all practitioners.
  6. Revalidation and mystery shopping for approved products.

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