Working with doctors Working for patients

GMC warns patients not to take risks to get 'beach body ready'

Press Release

14 Jun 2017

The General Medical Council (GMC) has warned people considering cosmetic interventions in search of a ‘beach ready’ body to think twice before embarking on what could be risky procedures.

Some people see cosmetic procedures as a short cut to getting the look they want, but such interventions should never be undertaken lightly, as they all carry risks.

Mary Agnew, the GMC's Assistant Director for Standards

A year after the GMC’s new standards came into force – ensuring doctors work safely and putting a stop to high pressure sales techniques and two-for-one deals which encourage consumers to make unwise or hasty decisions – the GMC is urging would-be patients to use caution and common sense.

Mary Agnew, the GMC’s Assistant Director for Standards, said: ‘It’s the time of year when people are looking forward to summer holidays, and to relaxing on the beach. Unfortunately men and women, young people especially, are often faced with images of perfect “beach ready” bodies, and sometimes feel under pressure to emulate them.

‘Some people see cosmetic procedures as a short cut to getting the look they want, but such interventions should never be undertaken lightly, as they all carry risks. Anyone considering having cosmetic work done should give themselves the time to think long and hard before deciding whether to go ahead.’

The GMC – which protects patients and improves medical practice by setting standards for doctors working in the UK – has published a guide to help patients make sure they receive safe, high quality cosmetic care.

The guide, What to expect of doctors who carry out cosmetic procedures, can be downloaded free from the GMC’s website. It includes advice on the sort of questions prospective patients should ask before agreeing to a procedure, including:

  • Will you carry out the procedure yourself? If not, can I meet the doctor who will?
  • What are the potential risks and complications?
  • What could the costs be if anything goes wrong, or if it needs to be done again?
  • What is covered, and not covered, in the aftercare you provide?

Mary Agnew said: ‘Potential patients should never feel reticent about asking questions and expecting clear and thorough answers. Reputable doctors will be happy to discuss procedures in detail, and to answer any queries people have.

‘We want people to feel empowered to take their time, do their research and to ask questions. Patients have a right to expect a high level of safe care, and if they’re in any doubt they should walk away.’

The GMC’s guide for patients is available online.

Notes to editors

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

To find out more please visit our website

Join us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.

Hearings calendar