Cosmetic surgery requires tighter regulation

Published: 4 April 2013 at 10:31

Anglia Ruskin academic wants Sir Bruce Keogh to recommend compulsory qualifications

The shortage of formal training and regulations has resulted in cosmetic surgery becoming the “Cinderella” of the plastic surgery field, according to leading surgeon and academic Professor James Frame.

Professor Frame leads the MCh (Master of Surgery) in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery at Anglia Ruskin University, the first practice-based qualification in the world to be endorsed by ISAPS (the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery).

Established last year to improve patient safety by providing rigorous training and a recognised qualification, Anglia Ruskin’s Masters degree demands that students prove their competence in 14 core areas of cosmetic surgery including rhinoplasty, breast augmentation and reduction, abdominoplasty and liposuction.

Professor Frame believes that all practising cosmetic surgeons operating in the UK should hold a recognised, specialist qualification and is calling on Sir Bruce Keogh to include this in his recommendations when the NHS Medical Director presents his review into the cosmetic surgery industry later this month.

“The key issue is that, at present, we are not recognised as a speciality and therefore any surgeon can call themselves a cosmetic or aesthetic surgeon,”

said Professor Frame.

“It is not just about weeding out the non-trained practitioners, who are increasingly being identified as causing morbidity and mortality during routine aesthetic procedures, but the current situation makes it almost impossible for the public to easily identify a fully trained and accredited cosmetic surgeon.
“The evidence is that the majority of patients find their surgeon through the internet.  The large groups, the ones that pay fortunes for the privilege of being on the first page of search engine results, pick up around 80% of the cosmetic surgery business in the UK. 
“Some of these groups offer cheaper surgery but with surgeons who are prepared to accept large operating lists at lower rates of pay and with little in the way of progressive training.  In many of these companies the surgeons’ own experience in cosmetic surgery is often flimsy or non-existent, which is putting lives at risk.
“ISAPS has recognised this and has endorsed the MCh in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery at Anglia Ruskin University.  An ISAPS certificate on successful completion of the course is immensely valuable to the surgeon and, importantly, is a recognisable sign of competence for the general public.
“I believe that holding a recognised international qualification should be compulsory for all practising cosmetic surgeons and I’m hopeful that this will be recommended in Sir Bruce Keogh’s report.  For far too long we have been the Cinderella of our speciality and we must now take the lead, set stringent standards and prevent untrained surgeons from continuing to put patient safety at risk.”