Cosmetic surgery: knowing your rights if something goes wrong

Posted on the 30 May 2018 at 11:13

There is a great deal of confusion that surrounds the aesthetic industry and what procedures within it are subject to regulation. As the popularity of cosmetic procedures continues to rise, so too do the number of complaints and the volume of incidents involving risky practices and untrained or inexperienced practitioners.

The industry has struggled to adapt quickly enough in order to respond to the increasing demand for invasive and non-invasive procedures. Fortunately, following the publication of the “Review of the Regulation of Cosmetic Interventions” report in 2013, there have been signs of change, with both the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) issuing new standards and guidelines to doctors in 2016 to better safeguard patients.

A number of statutory and voluntary bodies have been working to improve public safety and information in this field, however, the trickle-down effect of implementing change is slow, and many patients are still left unclear, or unaware, as to their legal standing. To help explain, in this report we will:

  • Break down the current guidelines for cosmetic surgery
  • Explain what is, and what is not, regulated within the industry
  • Decipher what regulation means for patients
  • Lay out what the legal recourse is for when a cosmetic procedure goes wrong due to medical malpractice
  • Offer guidance on how to safely choose a cosmetic practitioner

This guide has been produced for cosmetic procedures taking place in the United Kingdom and is applicable specifically for England.

There are a few differences in regulatory practices for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. To find out more, click the links below.

  • Scotland - all independent cosmetic clinics have to be registered with Healthcare Improvement Scotland
  • Wales - Healthcare Inspectorate Wales also inspect laser and IPL clinics (the Care Quality Commission in England do not)
  • Northern Ireland - the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority also inspects laser and IPL clinics


Read the FULL GUIDE to Cosmetic surgery: knowing your rights if something goes wrong.

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