By Edie Bourne
Surgeons and clinics are being urged to display their backing for a national initiative aimed at encouraging patients to think more carefully about cosmetic surgery treatments and whom they ask to do it.
They are being asked to ‘proudly display’ a British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) campaign logo on their website to show patients they want to help them make safe, informed decisions.
The body wants them to get in touch to discuss how they can intensify the campaign – which has had a big media profile in recent weeks – and to ensure they are able to follow its professional guidelines.
According to BAPRAS president and consultant plastic surgeon Mr Nigel Mercer (left), thousands of people are putting themselves at serious risk by rushing in to major procedures recklessly, without consideration for their own safety.
He said many people spent more time choosing an electrician than they do a surgeon.
BAPRAS found a quarter of all people having cosmetic surgery in the UK (24%) do not check their surgeon’s credentials, a fifth (21%) are unaware of the risks associated with the procedure and a further fifth (22%) are not even clear on the potential outcomes of their procedure before going ahead.
With over two million people in the UK considering or already committing to cosmetic surgery in the next year, BAPRAS warned that many may experience long-term damage unless they take a considered and safe approach.
It found 59% of patients undertaking surgery less than two weeks after their first consultation are actually less confident about their appearance afterwards.
The campaign, Think Over Before You Make Over, aims to help anyone considering surgery to ensure the decision is the right one for them, and includes a range of free guides from some of the UK’s most experienced plastic surgeons.
BAPRAS said many patients did not know that any doctor can say they are a cosmetic surgeon.
It advises patients to choose surgery based on professional skills, but says half of all cosmetic surgery patients say keeping costs down is a major consideration. Twenty-seven per cent are unaware if any aftercare is available should something go wrong.
BAPRAS said: ‘These problems are frequently associated with patients travelling overseas for cosmetic surgery, but are also widespread among patients in the UK.’
It found 51% of patients felt marketing from clinics made them more likely to consider a treatment than they would have otherwise.
BAPRAS is working with the Royal College of Surgeons’ Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee (CSIC) to advance recommendations that will ensure all cosmetic surgeons, whether from a plastic surgery background or not, can prove high standards of training in the areas they are practising.
But as these recommendations are not yet in place, it is telling the public to use the GMC Specialist Register as the safest approach to choosing a surgeon.