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Will New Cosmetic Surgery Guidelines Really Protect “Vulnerable” Patients?

Monday, October 24, 2016 10:19
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A record number of people undergoing cosmetic surgery to change how they look has led to a drastic change in official guidelines to protect vulnerable patients – but just how protective are they?

A global survey released by ISAPS reported an increase of over one million cosmetic and aesthetic procedures in 2015 alone, raising major concerns for the life-changing decisions being made by those who may not be thinking straight or are thought to be too young for such decisions.

The new regulations, implemented in Australia as of 1 October 2016, mean that doctors must avoid irresponsible advertising, two-for-one offers, and manage the patient consent process much more thoroughly to discourage those who are more vulnerable.

Why Do So Many People Want to Change Their Bodies?

This is a question which carries an enormous weight. There is no lack of media campaigns aimed at getting the “perfect body”, and it’s an idea which is being engrained in the majority of people from an early age.

According to statistics from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), we’re feeling uglier than ever. Data shows that demand for cosmetic surgical procedures grew 13 percent between 2014 and 2015, with breast enlargement the most popular sought after surgery.

Going under the knife has become normalised by celebrities and those younger people are looking up to, which is being partly blamed on the vulnerability of young people.

Will the Guidelines Really Protect “Vulnerable” Patients?

Time will tell. One of the predominant guidelines is seven-day cooling off period for all adults intending to undergo major procedures is just one of the guidelines being fixed, along with three-month period for those under 18.

A mandatory evaluation by a professional psychologist is also now required to protect those vulnerable to changing their minds or making a regrettable decision with cosmetic surgery.

Essentially, the new guidance forbids procedures being offered as prizes, requires comprehensive record-keeping of consultations and outcomes, and attempts to stops doctors allowing salespeople to misrepresent treatments.

The Problem Has Been Coming for a While

In essence, cosmetic procedures are now the surgery of want not need. It has become a multibillion-dollar industry which has been normalised by the media.

Cosmetic medicine and surgery have advanced tremendously over the past three decades, and it is safer than ever.

And it is extremely fashionable. The types of cosmetic surgery available are more sophisticated than ever. For example:

The “Designer Vagina”

Even so far as the “designer vagina”. Otherwise known as labial reduction (argued by many as close to female mutilation) has become a cosmetic procedure more than a gynaecological one.

South Korean Radical Facial Surgery

Perhaps more worryingly, in South Korea, radical facial surgery has been booming. The surgery is available cheap, efficient, and excellent facilities have come out of the old US hospitals which now cater for the global medical tourism market. It could be seen as too readily available.

Limb Lengthening in India

A somewhat painful limb lengthening procedure has become a popular option in India – and it can add as much as three inches to someone’s height. This is an adapted technique which was once used to add height to children with stumped growth. The section of bone supported by the frame is surgically “broken” and over subsequent weeks the frame is made longer. The gap that develops fills with new bone.

Life changing procedures will not become a thing of the past, but the guidelines may well encourage some prone to changing their minds to think twice while they still can.

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