I have just finished submitting my audit figures to the BAAPS (the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) which is something I have to do every year as a member of BAAPS.
This means that there is a central body that collects all of our data to look at the number of operations we are doing, our infection rate, and our re-operation rate.
People are always shocked when I tell them that the majority of cosmetic surgery done in this country is not done by plastic surgeons, and they wonder ‘how could this be?’
The answer is that there is no law that says that it has to be a plastic surgeon who performs a plastic surgery procedure and because there is a huge demand for cosmetic surgery such as breast implants and liposuctions, there are an enormous amount of surgeons and doctors who are offering these procedures who have not gone through the extensive and rigorous training of plastic surgery.
That is why I have written a book about it.
The truth is that if you are doing enough of a procedure then you are likely to start to get good at it, so many of these surgeons could say that they have done hundreds of cases and are now good at it.
The problem is that they are not regulated or monitored in the same way as a plastic surgeon would be.
We are bound by strict guidelines as members of BAAPS and we have a code of conduct we are accountable to.
If our complication rate or re-operation rate is very high, it will be picked up.
We have criteria around what we can say to patients in terms of advertising and marketing and we are not allowed to give time limited offers or any inducements to surgery, and so when patients ask us if there is any movement on the price it is not that we are trying to be difficult or aloof, we actually cannot give any discounts because this is after all a medical procedure, and the prices are set.
The situation would be different if you saw a non-BAAPS member because they would just be limited by the guidelines of the GMC, which are much more broad about how doctors treat patients in general and it is not uncommon to see special offers or inducements to have surgery within a certain timeframe.
As a plastic surgeon we also have to have medical insurance and no-one expects to need this just like you do not expect to need it with your car, but it is important that you are fully insured and that patients are protected.
We need to have insurance of between 5 and 10 million pounds of liability cover and other types of surgeons may not have this level of cover.
The area of cosmetic surgery covers quite a wide spectrum and includes doctors who are not trained in plastic surgery but are trained in other specialties, such as general surgery, or ENT.
It also includes doctors who are not trained in any surgical speciality at all.
I am sorry to say it also includes people who are not trained as doctors at all!
If you have any concerns you can always go to the practitioner’s professional association, and as I have said, BAAPS has strict guidelines and of course, we are also bound by the GMC.
As you get into the world of treatment done by non-medical personnel, and this is particularly common in the non-surgical area in terms of anti-wrinkle injections and fillers, if you are treated by someone who is not a member of any professional association you have no-one to go to if you feel that your practitioner is not working within adequate professional standards.
You will only have the law to fall back on and I am sorry to say this is very lax in the area of cosmetic surgery and you will not find much protection unless you can prove an actual assault.
As ever, do your research to maximise your chances of a good outcome.
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