Last reviewed 7 April 2014

Martin Hodgson reports on Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of the regulation of cosmetic interventions, which he led in 2013.

Review of the Regulation of Cosmetic Interventions, published in April 2013, concluded that the existing regulatory framework has not kept pace with the rapidly growing cosmetic interventions sector, and it does not provide enough protection against many of the potential risks from cosmetic procedures.

Professor Keogh highlighted poor and unsafe practices across the cosmetic sector and made a number of recommendations. The Government is now taking many of the review’s recommendations forward and is working with healthcare regulators and patient safety organisations to improve the quality of training and patient care.

In particular, the Government has accepted a recommendation by the General Medical Council (GMC) that only doctors on the GMC Specialist Register should be able to perform cosmetic surgery.

To support this work, the GMC has reviewed its guidance for doctors prescribing Botox and other injectables, and has included this in the April 2013 edition of Good Practice in Prescribing and Managing Medicines and Devices. Paragraph 62 states that doctors must undertake a physical examination of patients before prescribing non-surgical cosmetic medicinal products, such as Botox or other injectable cosmetic medicines. This precludes such medicines being prescribed by telephone, video-link, or online.

Other recommendations in the Keogh review included:

  • the scope of the EU Medical Devices Directive to be extended to include all cosmetic implants, including dermal fillers

  • the Royal College of Surgeons establishing an Interspecialty Committee on Cosmetic Surgery to set standards for cosmetic surgery practice and training, and to make arrangements for formal certification of all surgeons regarded as competent to undertake cosmetic procedures

  • registration of all those performing cosmetic interventions

  • Health Education England leading a review of training for providers of some non-surgical procedures

  • a multi-stage consent process being developed for operations

  • surgical providers giving both the person undergoing a procedure and his or her GP proper records

  • advertising recommendations and restrictions to be updated and better enforced.

Government Response to the Review of the Regulation of Cosmetic Interventions was published in February 2014 and reveals the latest work against these recommendations.

The GMC is welcoming comments on its website about the proposals.