I welcome the recent announcement that new Government legislation will ensure that cosmetic surgery clinics offering high-risk operations will be rated publicly online by the General Medical Council (GMC) with qualifications including “outstanding”, “good”, “requires improvement” or “inadequate”. This is very positive news.
The GMC legislation has been issued with patient safety in mind and is based on the industry body’s qualified insights into the quality of hospital/clinic practices. It’s imperative for hospitals and clinics to meet the required high standards from the first admission of the patient until they are discharged. The direct impact of the legislation will probably be hospitals investing in better qualified and trained staff. This will also contribute to a surge in successful operations and satisfactory experiences for all patients opting for cosmetic surgery. This is the first official step towards putting an end to botched procedures which have come to light due to practitioners who don’t respect the guidelines of this job.
The next step would be for the GMC to consider regulating less-invasive procedures such as dermal filler injections, as their negative side-effects should not be disregarded. Currently, in France, where I also practise, only practitioners holding a medical certificate are allowed to perform these procedures, but in the UK, even beauty centres, nurses and individuals are entitled to provide these services. Over time, this has led to a lack of quality control and potential health risks.
Apart from the industry issuing stricter regulations, I would advise all patients to ensure that they do their due diligence and check all the required qualifications of the practitioner in question. Cosmetic surgery is a life changing procedure and people should take adequate measures to research their medical practitioner sufficiently for something as important as their health. They can actually check by contacting the GMC and provide them with stated medical qualifications and letters after the surgeon’s name to certify that they are eligible to perform the required procedures. For example, I am on the French Board of Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, registered to practice in the UK, I am a member of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) and I’ve recently been appointed to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
It’s also crucial that patients always read testimonials and reviews to find out about their practitioner’s reputation. For this, they can request to speak to previous patients to hear about their experience and even go and get a second opinion with another doctor to compare the service and their qualifications. The best promotion of a doctor’s work is word of mouth so this is a great source of information. Patients should not be attracted purely by low/discounted prices – the qualifications of the surgeon and the standard of the hospital is of the utmost importance.
In my view, the most important thing to take into consideration is to ensure that the patient can build a rapport of trust with the consultant so that they know that he/she is caring and sensitive to their needs and listens to their requirements and the results that they are trying to achieve. I always ensure that I see patients at least twice before surgery to confirm that they have understood everything in full, that I have taken all of their expectations into consideration and warned them of the potential risks. It’s imperative that consultants give the patient time to think about the procedure so that if he/she decides to go ahead with it, they are completely convinced that it is what they want to do. A reputable practitioner would also ensure that the patient has signed a consent form, which is also reviewed several times before the surgery. I think it would be difficult to trust a surgeon or rather let’s say I might be quite wary of someone who has said that they could perform an operation the following day after you have only met them once. I would advise having frequent meetings with the client in the weeks and months that follow the operation until both myself and the patient are fully satisfied with the final results. I want my customers to know that I am available to address any concerns or queries and to assure and take care of them on a regular basis. If a consultant doesn’t follow the protocol care guidelines, the client might go and visit another surgeon who isn’t fully up to speed with where they are in the process so it’s imperative for the registered cosmetic surgeon to keep in contact with their client to ensure that their expectations have been met. I also take photos of the patient at every meeting from start to finish so that the client can see the evolution of their transformation.