Press release

Major review into cosmetic procedures launched

Expert panel to look at the best way to protect patients having cosmetic interventions.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The cosmetic surgery industry is under scrutiny and could find itself operating under tighter restrictions following a major review into cosmetic surgery and procedures launched today by the Department of Health.

The review, requested by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and led by the NHS Medical Director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, is in response to concerns raised about the industry following problems with PiP breast implants.

It will look at many issues including whether the right amount of regulation is in place, if people have the right amount of information before going through with surgery and how to make sure patients get the right aftercare.

People are being asked to give their views on, and share their experiences of, the cosmetic surgery industry and cosmetic procedures. The call for evidence, issued today, is asking for people’s views on:

  • the regulation and safety of products used in cosmetic interventions;
  • how best to ensure that the people who carry out procedures have the necessary skills and qualifications;
  • how to ensure that organisations have the systems in place to look after their patients both during their treatment and afterwards;
  • how to ensure that people considering cosmetic surgery and procedures are given the information, advice and time for reflection to make an informed choice; and
  • what improvements are needed in dealing with complaints so they are listened to and acted upon.

This comes as a survey shows that many people consider the cost of surgery more important than the qualifications of the people doing it, or how they will be looked after. The survey of 1,762 people shows that:

  • Two thirds (67 per cent) of those questioned consider cost as a factor when deciding whether or not to have cosmetic surgery (66 per cent for non-surgical procedures);
  • only half (54 per cent for surgery, 50 per cent for non-surgical procedures) take the qualifications of their practitioner into consideration; and
  • less than half (44 per cent for surgery, 36 per cent for non-surgical procedures) consider the quality of their aftercare.

It also shows that, as a result of the recent PiP breast implant problems, almost half of women (45 per cent) who said they would have considered cosmetic surgery before, say that they are now less likely to have it. This compares to a quarter (24 per cent) of men.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh 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.”

A team of experts will assist Sir Bruce Keogh to gather evidence and make recommendations to the Government by next March. The members are:

  • Andrew Vallance-Owen, former Medical Director of BUPA
  • Catherine Kydd, campaigner on PiP implants
  • Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, Emeritus Professor of Health Law, Ethics and Policy at University College London
  • Trish Halpin, Editor of ‘Marie-Claire’ magazine
  • Dr Rosemary Leonard, GP and media doctor
  • Professor Shirley Pearce, clinical psychologist and former Vice Chancellor of Loughborough University
  • Simon Withey, plastic surgeon
  • Vivienne Parry, writer and broadcaster

The Secretary of State for Health has also requested that the review considers a national implant register, for products such as breast implants and other medical devices. The information could include the date and place of the operation, the clinical outcome as well as a method of identifying the patients who received the product.

Notes to Editors**

  1. The survey was conducted by ComRes who interviewed 1,762 adults in Englandbetween 3rd and 5th August 2012. People were asked the following questions:

Thinking of cosmetic surgery, such as a nose job, breast enlargement or reduction, facelift, eyelid lift, tummy tuck or liposuction, which three of the following, if any, would be factors in your decision about whether or not to have the surgery?

Thinking of cosmetic treatments such as botox injection, dermal filler, chemical peel or laser hair removal, which three of the following, if any, would be main factors in your decision about whether or not to have the treatment?

[Asked of those who have had or would consider cosmetic procedures or treatment.]

  Surgery Treatment

Cost 67% 66%

Qualifications of practitioner 54% 50%

Quality of aftercare 44% 36%

Patient testimonials or recommendations 28% 26%

Recommendations of family or friends 19% 23%

Convenience (location or waiting times) 12% 17%

Advertising of a cosmetic clinic or procedure 3% 3%

Celebrity endorsement 1% 2%

Something else 4% 4%

None of these 13% 14%

Published 15 August 2012