GMC releases guidelines for consumers considering aesthetic procedures

Consumers considering having a cosmetic procedure are being urged to question their doctors before going ahead with treatment, in new advice issued this week by the General Medical Council (GMC).

As tough standards for doctors carrying out cosmetic practice come into force – covering everything from fillers to face lifts – the GMC has published a guide to help potential patients research and receive safe, high-quality cosmetic care.

The GMC said people considering a cosmetic procedure should keep in mind the following when interacting with their doctor:

Consent – The doctor who will carry out your procedure must speak to you personally and get your consent.

Openness - Your doctor must be open and honest about their skill, experience, fees and any conflicts of interests.

Safety – Your procedure must take place in a safe and suitable environment.

Marketing – Your doctor must market themselves responsibly and be clear about the risks involved.

Experience – Your doctor should have experience of carrying out the procedure you’ve asked for, and be able to tell you what it involves and how long it takes.

Time – Your doctor must give you enough time to make your decision. You should never feel pressured or rushed into having a procedure.

Information – Your doctor must give you clear information, including details about aftercare and who to contact if you’re worried.

Costs – Your doctor must explain the costs clearly, including details of any fees you need to pay for any potential additional procedures.

The advice, contained in full in the GMC’s leaflet "What to expect of doctors who carry out cosmetic procedures", also explains what to do if people have any concerns or doubts about a cosmetic procedure, or if they experience any problems after work has been carried out.

Professor Terence Stephenson, chair of the GMC, said:" People choosing to undergo a cosmetic procedure have the right to expect safe, high quality care and treatment. While doctors offering cosmetic interventions now have tough standards they must follow, this shouldn’t deter potential patients from asking questions about any aspect of their care, treatment and support.

"The information we’re publishing today reminds people of what they can expect from a doctor who carries out cosmetic procedures in the UK. We hope it empowers people to take more time, do more research or even walk away if they aren’t fully confident in any part of the cosmetic intervention they are being offered."

The GMC’s new COSMETIC acrostic accompanies its new guide What to expect of doctors who carry out cosmetic procedures (available online). The GMC is asking private cosmetic clinics across the UK to display these materials to help inform and support potential patients.