Is a “Cooling-Off Period” for Plastic Surgery on its Way?
We live in an age of immediate gratification, with little to no room for any “patience is a virtue” idealism. But when it comes to plastic surgery, both the U.K. and Australia are thinking that’s just what consumers need. Both countries are proposing guidelines for plastic surgery that would instate mandatory “cooling off periods” after the initial consultation, for patients seeking these elective procedures, and many doctors agree with their thinking.
“Cosmetic surgery has for too long been seen as a commodity,” said former President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (BAAPS), Rajiv Grover. “Unfortunately once an operation is done — it can’t be taken back to the shop.”
The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the UK’s General Medical Council with the assistance of the BAAPS and the British Association of Plastic Surgeons (BAPS), have both drafted proposed guidelines to help doctors establish sound ethical standards, including helping to manage expectations and protecting vulnerable patients. In the UK, the proposed mandatory “cooling off period” is 2 weeks, in Australia it is 7 days for adults and 3 months for anyone under 18. In addition, teen patients would be required to undergo a psychological assessment prior to surgery.
The new guidelines for both countries would also put in place measures on informed and clear patient consent. Doctors would be advised against trivializing or minimizing the risks associated with any procedure, and are required to give face-to-face consultations prior to any procedure. Additional measures in the UK would ensure that no unjustifiable claims are made or inaccurately marketed and no procedures are given away as a prize.
According to a June 2015 BBC News segment, The General Medical Council (GMC) cites the rapid growth of the cosmetic industry leading to more vulnerable patients who are at risk. They hope these new guidelines would help strengthen safeguards for patients and raise standards among doctors. “The vast majority of doctors who are involved in cosmetic interventions of one kind or another do a good job,” said, Chief Executive General Medical Council, Niall Dixon. “I think what they want are the ones who are not so good to stop doing it or get the proper training and that patients are not forced to be in a position where they’re under unfortunate pressure.”
The blurred lines between medical procedures and consumer culture have instilled a belief that cosmetic surgery is a simple and transformative affair with minimal risk. But, the reality is that all medical procedures carry a certain amount of risk, risk that can significantly impact the life of a patient, should something go wrong. Taking that into consideration is reason enough to take some time to reconsider your decision to have plastic surgery and only do it if it’s right for you.
Both countries are consulting with doctors, other experts and the public and expect to put these mandates into effect in 2016.
So tell us, do you think a mandatory “cooling off period” prior to cosmetic surgery is a good idea?