The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Plastic Surgery Laws

Cosmetic Surgery Regulations

A review of the best practices and standards for reconstructive and aesthetic cosmetic surgery set by clinical guidelines and surgeons in the United Kingdom.

PLASTIC SURGERY LAWS: There appears to be little public knowledge about the rules on plastic surgery and especially so in the UK.

This section has cosmetic surgery statistics with guidance about the current regulations for reconstructive and cosmetic intervention procedures.

Cosmetic Surgeons - Qualifications

If you are wondering whether you are required by law to be qualified to be a cosmetic surgeon - the answer is not necessarily.

Any qualified doctor is permitted to carry out cosmetic surgery even if they do not have specific skills or advanced training qualifications in reconstructive or cosmetic procedures - unless there is a rule change.

In response to this, a UK Member of Parliament is currently calling for a new system of regulation. He specifically wants patients to be reassured that any cosmetic surgeon operating on them are properly qualified and governed by the law.

Specialist Training

There is no common regulatory qualification for people performing cosmetic surgery. Your surgeon will be medically trained, but this kind of reconstruction is not defined as a surgical specialty in its own right at the present time.

The lack of specialist legislation is worrying for many patients going 'under the knife' because it means they have no easy way of reassuring themselves that their surgeon is qualified to carry out the procedure.

Some defined reconstructive or aesthetic surgery specialist techniques do require, or include, a degree of training in the cosmetic aspects.

The most notable of these are for eye operations, and it also includes some ear, nose and throat alterations.

Royal College of Surgeons

In England and Wales, the Royal College of Surgeons is committed to promoting and advancing the highest standards of surgical care for patients and regulating surgery, which also includes dentistry.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England agrees with a call to amend the current rulings for plastic surgery laws and regulations in the United Kingdom. The RCS is a registered charity and based in Lincoln.

It has been widely acknowledged that the independent professional body would like the Government to ensure only surgeons with the appropriate skills and experience undertake cosmetic surgery.

The RCS also gives credence to the General Medical Council (GMC) having the legal power to formally recognize additional qualifications or credentials which would then include specialist qualifications for those who operate in the cosmetics field.

One advantage of the proposed new legislation could include a public register which would provide the names of doctors or surgeons with the qualification. Patients and employers could then verify whether a proficient cosmetic surgeon has limited or extensive and recognized experience in the specific procedures.

RCS Warning: "The risks of cosmetic surgery can be serious and include disfigurement. For example, the PIP breast implant failures resulted in ruptured implants that could form scar tissue and pain and inflammation."

Plastic Surgery Statistics UK

UK-wide, cosmetic interventions are a booming business. Plastic surgical operations and augmentations are estimated to be worth close to £4 billion for the year of 2015.

Statistically - according to research conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) - the top five cosmetic surgical procedures performed within the last few years have been;

  1. Breast Augmentation
  2. Nose Reshaping
  3. Double Eyelid Surgery
  4. Liposuction
  5. Facelift

Lack of Regulations - Concerns

The lack of regulations increased further concerns and especially after the 'PIP' breast implants scandal and recall in 2010. Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) was a French company who were using industrial grade silicones - instead of medical grade.

Silicon for breast implants is usually made from medical grade material which must pass stringent safety tests for use in a human body. But concerns emerged when the industrial grade proved to have double the rupture rate of most other regulated implants.

Plastic Surgery Laws and Cosmetic Surgery Regulations; UK Rules Updated 2017