The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is calling for greater regulation of the cosmetic surgery industry to improve patient safety and care.
In a submission to Ahpra’s independent review of the regulation of physicians who perform cosmetic surgerythe RACGP has made a number of recommendations to improve patient safety and enable consumers to make informed and considered decisions before undergoing a procedure.
Ahpra has announced it will look into the largely unregulated industryfollowing a Four Corners Exposed dangerous and disturbing practices in cosmetic surgery clinics. To improve patient safety, the RACGP recommends:
a consultation with a GP or other trained healthcare professional before a major cosmetic procedure
specialist adolescent counseling prior to surgery for patients under 18
measures to ensure that all patient consents are taken into account and informed, including translators to help people whose main language is not English
stricter controls on advertising and marketing of cosmetic procedures, including on social media
Accreditation of clinics to ensure high quality standards in infection prevention and control for patient safety
use of terms such as “cosmetic” and “Dr” for cosmetic surgery service providers, not surgeons, and public education so that consumers know what the different titles mean and the level of training received
clear guidelines for patients to lodge a complaint if they are unhappy with a service
President RACGP Deputy. Professor Karen Price said sensible changes were needed to keep patients safe.
“Recent reports of patients who have suffered due to shoddy practices in the cosmetic surgery industry have been disturbing to say the least – stricter regulation is clearly needed to ensure patient safety and care,” said she declared.
“It is important to note that in many cases, GPs do not have the opportunity to have a conversation with people who are considering cosmetic medical or surgical procedures, as consumers often bypass their regular GP and ask are aimed directly at cosmetic practitioners.
“Making changes here to ensure consumers see their GP or an appropriately trained healthcare professional could make a real difference.
“A GP would be able to assess the patient to determine if the procedure is appropriate and screen for underlying physical and mental health issues that may need to be addressed. GPs should also have access to resources to help patients in these situations, including questions to ask a provider before surgery and advice on a cooling-off period before committing to surgery.
“New and emerging cosmetic procedures such as female genital cosmetic surgery raise even more concerns. These procedures are not medically indicated and are advertised with commercial labels that can be misleading, such as “custom laser vaginoplasty”, “revirgination” and “G-shot”.
“These are invasive procedures, but there are no evidence-based guidelines for them, and no formal training is required, meaning anyone with a medical degree can perform them.
“It also highlights why it would be beneficial for patients to see a GP first when considering cosmetic surgery.
“A GP would be able to discuss the lack of evidence to support a procedure and the potential for injury or complications. Patients should be warned when a medical procedure is unapproved and benefits are unproven.
“With regard to female genital cosmetic surgery, patients should be referred to a gynecologist rather than directly to a cosmetic practitioner, and mental health and body image issues should be explored, and appropriate counseling arrangements should be made. provided.”
The RACGP president said a rigorous review of the marketing, accessibility and cost of procedures was also warranted.
“While the advertising guidelines for cosmetic surgery are appropriate, their implementation is inadequate and requires further action and improvement,” she said.
“Procedural evidence must be clearly available to consumers to avoid misleading therapeutic claims.
“And treatments should only be provided if the person performing them has the appropriate training and experience.
“The potential harms associated with cosmetic surgery are related to the extent to which the skills held by the practitioner match the scope of practice.
“The RACGP pointed out in a previous submission to the Medical Board of Australia that cosmetic procedures, such as Botox and collagen injection treatments, are often performed by a beautician or nurse. And it is likely that there are cases when an attending physician does not supervise.
“That’s why we think it’s important for clinical groups to agree on a delineation of cosmetic surgery services based on the complexity of the procedures – and ensure that the person performing the procedure has the training, appropriate expertise and experience.
“A person performing a procedure must be able to handle all routine aspects of care and all likely complications. Patient safety and care must come first.
/Public release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors.