Medicolegal Implications of Cosmetic Surgery
Cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is a constantly expanding market, and one which has also flourished in Northern Ireland in the last number of years. By its very nature, cosmetic surgery differs from procedures performed in hospitals throughout the country on a daily basis. Cosmetic surgery is elective, and entails a choice being made by a patient to go ‘under the knife’ in order to achieve a desired result. That being said, cosmetic surgery is still surgery, and carries with it a number of significant risks, the greatest of which is of course, death.
In the last decade or so, cosmetic surgery has taken on a new feature, with the development of ‘surgical tourism’, whereby vast numbers of patients venture abroad for procedures at a reduced cost. Whilst the potential risks inherent in opting for surgery in a foreign country without knowledge of the surgeon or the medical practices has been well documented, the fact remains that within the UK itself, cosmetic surgery remains a largely unregulated market. In reality, very few countries have systems of regulation in force and whilst there have been attempts at instituting a system of regulation in this jurisdiction, to date there is still no compulsory registration or one regulatory body responsible for overseeing cosmetic surgeons. Cosmetic surgery is not a recognised speciality and as such there is no specific training required. In most cases the only safeguard put in place is a requirement by the admitting hospital or practice that the surgeon be a member of the GMC Specialist Register. A number of proposals have been made to rectify this situation, but at present none have been enacted.
The most popular forms of cosmetic surgery which patients opt for include breast implants or reduction, rhinoplasty, facelifts and liposuction. Each of these procedures run the risks associated with surgery: heavy blood loss, bruising, infection, deep vein thrombosis, wound healing...
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