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GMC urges cosmetic procedure patients to question doctors

Press Release

01 Jun 2016

People thinking of having a cosmetic procedure are being urged to question their doctors before going ahead with treatment, in new advice issued today (Wednesday 01 June) by the General Medical Council (GMC).

As tough standards for doctors carrying out cosmetic practice come into force – covering everything from fillers to face lifts – the GMC has published a guide to help potential patients research and receive safe, high quality cosmetic care.

The GMC says people considering a COSMETIC procedure should keep in mind the following when interacting with their doctor:

Consent – The doctor who will carry out your procedure must speak to you personally and get your consent.
Openness - Your doctor must be open and honest about their skill, experience, fees and any conflicts of interests.
Safety – Your procedure must take place in a safe and suitable environment.
Marketing – Your doctor must market themselves responsibly and be clear about the risks involved.
Experience – Your doctor should have experience of carrying out the procedure you’ve asked for, and be able to tell you what it involves and how long it takes.
Time – Your doctor must give you enough time to make your decision. You should never feel pressured or rushed into having a procedure.
Information – Your doctor must give you clear information, including details about aftercare and who to contact if you’re worried.
Costs – Your doctor must explain the costs clearly, including details of any fees you need to pay for any potential additional procedures.

The advice, contained in full in the GMC’s leaflet What to expect of doctors who carry out cosmetic procedures, also explains what to do if people have any concerns or doubts about a cosmetic procedure, or if they experience any problems after work has been carried out.

Professor Terence Stephenson, Chair of the GMC, said:

‘People choosing to undergo a cosmetic procedure have the right to expect safe, high quality care and treatment. While doctors offering cosmetic interventions now have tough standards they must follow, this shouldn’t deter potential patients from asking questions about any aspect of their care, treatment and support.

‘The information we’re publishing today reminds people of what they can expect from a doctor who carries out cosmetic procedures in the UK. We hope it empowers people to take more time, do more research or even walk away if they aren’t fully confident in any part of the cosmetic intervention they are being offered.’

The GMC’s new COSMETIC acrostic accompanies its new guide What to expect of doctors who carry out cosmetic procedures (available online). The GMC is asking private cosmetic clinics across the UK to display these materials to help inform and support potential patients.

Notes to editors

The GMC published new guidance for doctors carrying out cosmetic procedures in April 2016, following a public consultation held between June and September 2015.

This consultation followed the Department of Health’s Review of the Regulations of Cosmetic Interventions published in 2013.

The General Medical Council (GMC) is an independent organisation that helps to protect patients and improve medical education and practice across the UK.

  • We decide which doctors are qualified to work here and we oversee UK medical education and training.
  • We set the standards that doctors need to follow, and make sure that they continue to meet these standards throughout their careers.
  • We take action when we believe a doctor may be putting the safety of patients, or the public’s confidence in doctors, at risk.

We are not here to protect doctors – their interests are protected by others. Our job is to protect the public.

We are independent of government and the medical profession and accountable to Parliament. Our powers are given to us by Parliament through the Medical Act 1983.

We are a registered charity (number 1089278 with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and number SC037750 with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator), we have to show that our aims are for public benefit.

The GMC Media Relations Office can be contacted on 020 7189 5454, email

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