Nearly half of all Brits (48%) have had or have considered having cosmetic surgery, according to a new report which examines the current health of the industry and puts forward recommendations to improve the patient experience.
And the results of the survey are backed up by industry figures which shows that in 2005, 22,000 cosmetic surgery procedures were carried out in UK. Ten years later in 2015, that number has doubled to over 51,000.
Despite the incredible rise in demand for aesthetic surgical procedures, consumer confidence is at an all-time low, with a new opinion poll revealing that over half of Britons (57%) have a negative attitude towards cosmetic surgery, with over 1 in 6 (16%) describing their perception as wholly negative.
The survey, commissioned by Fitzroy Surgery and MYA Cosmetic Surgery, coincides with the launch of a new report2 called “Cosmetic Surgery - The Road To Reform: working together to restore patient trust”.
The report takes an independent overview view of the industry, charting its meteoric rise in popularity as well as analysing the impact of historical issues such as the PIP breast implant scandal and the current regulations and governance of the sector in order to probe patient safeguards.
The poll of over 1,000 consumers reveals our biggest worries about cosmetic surgery are complications after surgery (60%), complications during surgery (49%), followed by health scares such as the 2012 PIP scandal (45%) and botched surgery media stories (42%).
Given this, alarmingly, over half of respondents (53%) claim they feel uninformed about cosmetic surgery and do not feel there is enough reliable information available in the UK to make an informed decision.
The report finds that whilst there are many examples of best practice, with excellent surgeons and providers, as well as the introduction of new regulations, there are still gaps in the provision of patient care and a need for greater scrutiny and continued reform to restore patient confidence and enable consumers to make informed choices about their providers and treatment options.
The report also finds that as a health speciality which currently lies outside the NHS, there is a lack of minimal standards or benchmarks for patients to compare outcomes and experience against. There is currently no, one overseeing body representing the cosmetic surgery industry, no standardised code of practice, no collecting and collating of data across the industry, no comparing or sharing of outcomes, success or failure. And, this could be putting patients at risk.
Addressing these concerns, the report calls for:
- Greater transparency of data on the outcomes of surgical procedures so that patients can understand what a good outcome is and therefore make an informed decision about choosing a cosmetic surgery provider and procedure
- An increase in the minimum requirements to become certified as a specialist cosmetic surgeon
- The establishment of a wholly independent body to regulate, monitor and standardise the industry and provide one “port of call” as an unbiased source of information for patients
It also suggests that the charities BAAPS, and BAPRAS cover some educational ground but are principally supporting their own member’s interests, and whilst the GMC has recently produced Guidelines for Patients, it doesn’t rate individual providers.
The survey showed that very few people are confident in gaining unbiased info on cosmetic surgery patient websites (8%), internet forums (6%) and cosmetic surgery provider’s websites (4%). Interestingly, over a third of people surveyed (30%) said they put their trust in their GP to give them information on cosmetic surgery.
However even if a potential patient turns to his or her GP for advice they will find that they are not trained in advising on cosmetic surgery unless it is to do with breast or facial reconstruction which is quite different. This stems from the fact that the NHS rarely offers cosmetic surgery and so this is not part of the training regime for specialists let alone general practitioners.