New General Medical Council (GMC) proposals to allow cosmetic surgery patients a ‘cooling off’ period to fully consider their decision before committing to going under the knife are something we welcome at Neil Hudgell Solicitors.

As specialists in handling compensation cases involving substandard cosmetic surgery procedures, we firmly believe much tighter regulations have long been needed over the entire industry – particularly give the boom in numbers opting for surgery, and a general lack of awareness of the dangers.

Many clients we see simply fall foul of trusting surgeons who shouldn’t be carrying out the work they do. Many clients have been completely unaware that there has previously been no pre-requisite for a cosmetic surgeon to have any specialist experience of the procedures they perform.

Thankfully, things are changing and steps are be taken to better protect patients.

Earlier this year, the Royal College of Surgeons announced plans to introduce a new system under which surgeons will need to be certified for each specific procedure. Doctors will have to be a proven specialist in their field, and provide evidence about their success rates.

This key information will crucially allow patients to choose surgeons who have the right skills to carry out specific cosmetic surgery procedures, checking their qualifications on the GMC’s medical register.

Now, the GMC is also proposing that UK doctors allow patients of surgical procedures, such as face-lifts, tummy tucks or breast implants, or non-surgical procedures, such as dermal fillers and Botox, “enough time and information” to change their minds about whether to proceed with treatment.

It also says medics must be more open and honest with patients about the risks involved in treatment, and to take particular care when working with young people and children.

As in any form of patient care, honesty and openness is the key. Patients should be fully informed about the risks and dangers, and have all information at hand to ensure they are comfortable with the surgery, and the individual performing it.

In announcing their new proposals, Professor Terence Stephenson, GMC chairman, said cosmetic practice was a ‘huge and expanding area of medicine and patients, some of whom are vulnerable and need to be better protected.’

That was reflected in recent survey we commissioned at Neil Hudgell Solicitors, which highlighted some alarming public attitudes towards cosmetic surgery and the risks people are prepared to take in their quest for perfection.

Despite 78 per cent of those questioned saying they were comfortable with their bodies as they are, half of those people would still consider cosmetic surgery to change the way they look and keep their partner happy.

Young adults (between 18 and 34) were the most care-free, citing boosting their attractiveness as being the main reason they would opt for surgery, with over a third saying they wouldn’t be bothered about the risks involved. Should you be considering cosmetic surgery, our ‘Cosmetic Surgery: What you need to know’ guide may be of help.