Cosmetic surgery is now big business, worldwide but particularly here in the UK. In 2012 over 200,000 procedures were performed, with treatment rates having risen by a fifth in four years. Procedures ranging from the relatively simple like botox injections, to the more serious like breast augmentation, are therefore commonly being performed.
There is a danger that cosmetic surgery’s move into the mainstream is causing patients to overlook the potential dangers involved. Whilst minor procedures are usually straightforward, more complex operations such as facelifts and liposuction carry a much greater risk. Indeed, in recent years personal injury solicitors have seen an increase in the number of patients suffering complications following surgery, or who have been unhappy with the results of their operations.
There are a number of reasons to be cautious when thinking about undergoing cosmetic surgery.
Regulation of the industry leaves much to be desired, as Vivek Sivarajan, a leading Scottish cosmetic surgeon, recently explained.
“In England there are minimal regulations where cosmetic clinics have to be registered, but it’s worse in Scotland, where there’s no regulation of cosmetic surgery clinics. There’s no regulation or registration of who’s doing what kind of procedures and who’s been harmed,” said Mr Sivarajan.
Because the industry is poorly regulated, unscrupulous clinics may try to maximise profits by employing cheaper surgeons from overseas. Such foreign doctors may not be properly qualified, and their work may not reach the standards of well-regulated practitioners, which clearly puts patients’ health at risk.
Another danger can come when clinics place pressure on a patient to proceed with an operation, when they may still be in two minds about whether to go ahead with surgery. A patient may also be given an unrealistic expectation about the outcome of surgery. There’s a risk that clinics may encourage patients to undergo surgery when their cosmetic issues are psychological rather than physical – which means that they are left dissatisfied with the results of their operation, as the true cause of their unhappiness has not been addressed.
Of course, there are many reputable cosmetic surgery clinics in the UK, and most surgeons have the highest ethical standards and are well qualified to carry out operations. Even so, when considering cosmetic surgery it is definitely worth bearing in mind the potential dangers involved. Despite the fact that is now ubiquitous, cosmetic surgery is never without risk and you should carefully research a surgeon’s previous work before considering going under the knife.
About the author: Brit Peacock is a freelance health journalist writing on cosmetic surgery issues for medical negligence solicitors Pannone.