Sarah Ellson, head of the public and regulatory law group, Field Fisher Waterhouse

Beauty and the beast of regulation

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  • When choosing a physician to do these surgeries one must look at a number of criteria. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) is an organization that upholds a set of standards for training in cosmetic surgery in the United States. Consequently, when choosing a cosmetic surgeon it is wise to investigate if he or she is certified by the ABCS for best results. Beyond educational training and certification, a patient should research how often a cosmetic surgeon has performed a particular procedure. However, keep in mind that the number of times, and how recently, a procedure had been performed does not make up for lack of standardized monitoring or accredited formal education and licensure.

    Dr. Rhys Branman

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  • Hi Sarah.

    Many thanks for raising these important points.

    You are indeed correct. While top-down regulation of a healthcare provider by a government quango is one way to do things, persuading providers to compete to become accredited by a reputable independent accreditor may sometimes make more sense.

    It may well not be enough to just check out the surgeon themselves. If the organisation in which he or she is plying their trade is not up to much, then the end result is not likely to be up to much. the work of even the most skilful surgeon turns to utter mush in the face of poor infection control, while who wants to be operated on by someone who isn't genuinely qualified to do what they say they can do.

    Surely it would be good if protection from this sort of thing that British patients prioritised and looked out for - rather than just the price of the procedure! We only live once, and you can end up dead, maimed or disfigured - and with no redress - if things aren't done right.

    I must declare an interest. I am with QHA Trent, the UK-based independent holistic accreditation scheme ( We do not compete with any regulators (indeed, regulators are not there to compete with anyone, or at least they shouldn't be) and we exist to augment what those regulators are seeking to achieve, namely to improve the safety and wellbeing of patients and staff.

    QHA Trent does of course charge money - we have to to survive as we are entirely independent - but in all honesty we are not that expensive compared to, say, some well-known consulting firms.

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