Health

Cosmetic surgery 'should be done by specialist surgeons'

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Doctors should be prevented from performing cosmetic surgery outside their speciality, according to the Royal College of Surgeons.

It told the BBC the current rules allowed "GPs to do nose jobs" and that was "a big problem" for patients.

The organisation wants a new system to certify surgeons for each procedure.

Bodies that represent aesthetic plastic surgeons say that they support the idea but it will only help patients if it is "mandatory and policed".

The whole industry has been under intense scrutiny since thousands of women were fitted with sub-standard breast implants made by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).

Ministers described it as a "cowboy industry" of "murky practices".

The Royal College of Surgeons has launched a consultation on ways of cleaning up the industry.

One suggestion is a register of certified surgeons to help the public make an informed decision about the quality of their surgeon.

Doctors would have to be a proven specialist in their field and provide evidence about their success rates.

'Cowboy behaviour'

Stephen Cannon, the vice-president of the College, told the BBC News website: "Operating outside of speciality is a big problem in private practice as money is involved, so we hope to rectify that.

"There will be no concerns if you're already an established surgeon doing extremely well.

"But it'll stop the general practitioner doing the nose job, it'll stop the dermatologist lifting someone's breasts, it'll stop all that cowboy behaviour which goes on."

The College said these were not real-world examples, but theoretical worst-case scenarios that highlighted just how little regulation there was in the system.

However, the certificate system will be voluntary.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) says the proposal is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough.

Rajiv Grover, a Baaps spokesman and former president, said: "This will only protect the public if the recommendations are mandatory and policed.

"It is essential that the public know who to go to when seeking a qualified cosmetic surgeon, but also, to be assured that the quality of their outcome will meet accepted standards, and particularly to meet their own expectations."

'Recognising expertise'

Gary Ross, a consultant cosmetic and plastic surgeon, told the BBC the new regulations were "a start" but that more needed to be done:

"We really need it to be mandatory; we need every plastic surgeon and cosmetic surgeon to be involved in it and be regulated and certified.

"I think the public and the surgeons and the providers, everyone, must strive for that."

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Media captionPlastic surgery patient Sam Barton: "I didn't ask about the possible outcomes"

Nigel Mercer, the president of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, said: "This tightening of existing regulations will go a long way to help prospective patients and employing clinics recognise high-quality surgical expertise, leading to improved patient safety."

The Royal College of Surgeons advised people to look beyond the bill when picking a surgeon.

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