Plastic surgeons have welcomed the launch of a major review of cosmetic surgery following the PIP breast implant scandal.
NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, who will lead the inquiry, said he fears many people do not realise such procedures can have lifelong implications.
Speaking to The Times, Sir Bruce said he was likely to recommend tighter rules in several key areas, such as making it routine practice for surgeons to register all devices - from breast implants to hip replacements - on a detailed register that could be used to detect trends and trace individual patients, and requiring clinics to join a scheme, similar to that run by the travel industry, that would offer patients protection if a company went bust.
Other measures could include tightening the rules on anti-ageing dermal fillers, which require only basic safety checks and can legally be injected by anyone, and introducing minimum training requirements for surgeons carrying out cosmetic procedures, he told the newspaper.
The review was requested by Andrew Lansley after concerns about cosmetic surgery were raised following the public outcry over faulty PIP breast implants and could lead to tighter regulation of the industry.
Sir Bruce said: “The recent problems with PIP breast implants have shone a light on the cosmetic surgery industry.
“Many questions have been raised, particularly around the regulation of clinics, whether all practitioners are adequately qualified, how well people are advised when money is changing hands, aggressive marketing techniques, and what protection is available when things go wrong.
“I am concerned that too many people do not realise how serious cosmetic surgery is and do not consider the life-long implications - and potential complications - it can have.
“That’s why I have put together this review committee to advise me in making recommendations to Government on how we can better protect people who choose to have surgery or cosmetic interventions.
“We want to hear views from everyone, particularly people who have experience of the cosmetic surgery industry or of other cosmetic interventions - good and bad - so we can learn what works best.”
An expert panel, including PIP campaigner Catherine Kydd, former medical director of Bupa Andrew Vallance-Owen and editor of Marie Claire magazine Trish Halpin, will gather evidence before making recommendations to the government next March.
Members of the public are also being asked to share their experiences of cosmetic surgery and views on issues including the safety of products used in such procedures, care during and after treatment, and how much advice is given to those considering surgery.
Fazel Fatah, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), said: “We are delighted that the review is now under way. The BAAPS has been campaigning for many years for better regulations of the cosmetic surgery sector to protect patients.”