Guidance for doctors who offer cosmetic interventions

This guidance came into effect on 1 June 2016

This guidance sets out what is expected of every doctor who offers cosmetic interventions.

By cosmetic interventions, we mean any intervention, procedure, or treatment carried out with the primary objective of changing an aspect of a patient’s physical appearance. This includes surgical and non-surgical procedures, both invasive and non-invasive.

This guidance incorporates principles from our existing guidance, and is structured under the four domains of Good medical practice. In some cases, it sets a higher standard than in our other guidance to address the specific safety issues and ethical concerns particular to the cosmetic sector.

Doctors must follow all our guidance: serious or persistent failure to do so will put their registration at risk.

Read the guidance

Frequently asked questions

The guidance in practice: case studies

The following case studies relate to issues concerning cosmetic interventions and may help you to see how our guidance might work in practice:

We also have relevant case studies in Good medical practice in action (GMPiA) the GMC’s interactive case studies resource.

  • Mrs Melville (doctor concerned that cosmetic procedure requested may not have the desired outcome and advertising)
  • Christopher (parent seeking cosmetic procedure for their child).

Information for patients

Other sources of guidance

Professional Standards for Cosmetic Surgery
Published by the Royal College of Surgeons (2016)

Qualification requirements for delivery of cosmetic procedures
Published by NHS Health Education England (pdf) (2015)

Report on implementation of qualification requirements for cosmetic procedures
Published by NHS Health Education England (pdf) (2015)

The codes of practice from:

Marketing of cosmetic interventions
Published by Committee of Advertising Practice (2013)


You can read more about the development of the guidance (pdf) in this document. This explains the process we undertook in developing the guidance and the outcome of the consultation (pdf) we carried out during 2015.

In addition the equality analysis (pdf) that we carried out during the development of the guidance shows the work that we did to inform our understanding of the equality and diversity dimensions which apply to the cosmetic sector.