The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has announced a wide-ranging review of the cosmetic surgery industry.

The review will look at clinic regulation, whether those working in the industry are adequately qualified and skilled and the safety and regulation of products used in the industry. Patient care during treatment and aftercare will also be reviewed. The commercial aspects of the industry, such as advertising, the use of aggressive marketing practices, whether there is sufficient regulation to ensure that prospective patients receive accurate information on treatments, ‘cooling off periods’ and complaint handling will also be considered.

Enquiries following the PIP breast implant scandal at the end of last year highlighted the difficulty in tracing women who had received PIP implants in this country. The review is also expected to consider whether the cosmetic surgery industry should maintain a register of implants.

Leading the review will be Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of the NHS. Professor Keogh said: "I am concerned that too many people do not realise how serious cosmetic surgery is and do not consider the life-long implications – and potential complications - it can have."

Professor Keogh, who will report in early 2013, wants to hear from ‘everyone, particularly people who have experience of the cosmetic surgery industry or of other cosmetic interventions – good and bad – so we can learn what works best’. Penningtons intends to contribute to this review.

Tim Goodacre, Chair of the Professional Standards Committee of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), warned that ‘the remit [of the review] is huge – I'm not sure how they will satisfy the public's desire to see something done without masses of legislation’.

AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents), the organisation assisting patients who have suffered medical accidents, has also commented on the proposed review. (A number of Penningtons’ senior clinical negligence solicitors are members of AvMA's specialist referral panel.) Peter Walsh, Chief Executive of AvMA said that earlier attempts to reform the cosmetic industry have not been successful. "My fear is that there is a political resistance to introducing any form of statutory regulation…it has become somewhat politically incorrect to introduce regulation. That ideology in our opinion seems to have trumped patient safety in a number of cases."

In May this year Penningtons highlighted the concerns of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) that cosmetic laser treatment is virtually unregulated in England.

We regularly represent individuals who have sustained injury as a result of inappropriately performed cosmetic procedures. Until proper regulation is introduced into the cosmetic surgery industry, patients remain at risk from untrained and unregulated providers.