Crackdown on cosmetic surgery industry, cooling off periods imposed

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In a crackdown on the cosmetic surgery industry, new guidelines will be imposed requiring cooling off periods before procedures and better post-operative care.

The Medical Board of Australia has unveiled a suite of new guidelines aimed at better regulating the cosmetic surgery industry.

Among the new measurements is a requirement for a seven-day cooling off period before a surgery for adult patients and three-month cooling off period for children under 18.

Patients under 18 will also be required to undergo an evaluation by a registered psychiatrist, psychologist or general practitioner.

The cosmetic surgeon will be required to take full responsibility for the patient's post-operative care, to give the patient detailed written information about the costs associated with the procedure and to conduct a consultation before prescribing injectable cosmetic products.

"The guidelines will help keep patients safe, without imposing an unreasonable regulatory burden on practitioners," Board chairwoman, Dr Joanna Flynn said.

"The changes prioritise patient safety and reduce some of the regulatory requirements proposed in the previous draft guidelines, when either there was no evidence of improved safety or the costs significantly outweighed the benefits of a proposal."

The guidelines are designed to put a stop to practices that resulted in serious complications during or after cosmetic procedures.

Two women suffered heart attacks in 2015 while having breast augmentation surgery at the Sydney-based The Cosmetic Institute, which prompted an investigation that found surgeons at the facility were misusing anaesthetics. 

The guidelines will apply to all medical practitioners, including specialist plastic surgeons, cosmetic surgeons and cosmetic physicians regardless of their individual qualifications when they take effect on October 1, 2016.

"There was very clear support from stakeholders for clear guidance in this area and a strong message that other options would not effectively protect consumers," Dr Flynn said.

The Board also identified areas of concern in which they were not able to act.

These related to "inconsistencies in drugs and poisons legislation across jurisdictions, which can cause confusion for practitioners and consumers" and "reviewing, strengthening and aligning licensing and regulation of private health facilities, including the use of sedation and anaesthesia".

"When we have the power to act, we have acted," Dr Flynn said.

"When we identified a problem that we can’t address, we have made recommendations to other authorities."

The new guidelines apply to all minor and major procedures that involve piercing or cutting into the skin as well as "operations and other procedures that revise or change the appearance, colour, texture, structure or position of normal bodily features".

Source SBS News

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