This week the Department of Health published a report prepared by Professor Bruce Keogh the NHS medical director for England looking at cosmetic surgery and in particular procedures such as dermal fillers and Botox.

Many thousands of people have these procedures performed every year. I expect the majority of them assume that those doing them are in some way trained or regulated. When I am approached by people who have suffered side effects or have been left scarred or disfigured by these procedures, most of them are shocked and surprised when I explain to them that there are no systems in place to regulate the people carrying out these procedures. Indeed, I have read this week an interesting comment that there is no more protection in place for someone undergoing a cosmetic procedure than buying a toothbrush! For example, the injection of Botox or dermal fillers can be performed by anyone.

The conclusion of Professor Keogh’s review is that the lack of controls on certain procedures (he singled out dermal fillers as an example – injections to plump up the skin, fill in wrinkles and crows feet to create younger-looking cheeks and lips), is a “crisis waiting to happen”.

The review calls for compulsory registration and better training as well as banning cut-price deals and special offers that trivialise the procedures themselves.

Dan Poulter the Health Minister for England is quoted as saying he entirely agrees with the principles of the recommendations and that there would be a full response from the government in the summer. He went on to say “there is a significant risk of people falling into the hands of cowboy firms or individuals whose only aim is to make a quick profit. These people simply don’t care about the welfare of the people they are taking money from”.

There are very similar issues here to a previous blog I wrote about the use of lasers to remove tattoos and correct pigmentation.

The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons commented on Professor Keogh’s report saying it is hoped the recommendations “achieve parliamentary approval and support quickly”.

I would like to see steps taken to ensure that providers are required to have insurance in place to compensate people that are injured as a result of negligent treatment, but this appears unlikely to happen. In the meantime anyone thinking about having these procedures performed would be well advised to research the provider thoroughly, to enquire about their qualifications, and to ask questions about aftercare and about whether the provider does have insurance in place in the event that the procedure does go wrong.