How this guidance applies to you

This guidance is for all doctors who offer cosmetic interventions.

The cosmetic sector is a rapidly expanding area of practice that has gone from being a niche market to a popular service that is now widely available. Cosmetic interventions can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of patients. There have been particular concerns about patient safety and whether the sector operates in an ethical manner. It is important that doctors have the right skills, the products used are safe, and patients get accurate information before they decide to have a cosmetic intervention. This guidance sets out a framework for practice to address these concerns.

By cosmetic interventions we mean any intervention, procedure or treatment carried out with the primary objective of changing an aspect of a patient’s physical appearance. This includes surgical and non-surgical procedures, both invasive and non-invasive.

The key aims of this guidance are to make sure that doctors:

  • are appropriately trained and experienced to practise safely
  • work with each individual patient to make sure their expectations about the outcomes that can be achieved for them are realistic
  • follow current guidelines or protocols for safe, effective provision of cosmetic interventions
  • consider the psychological needs of their patients
  • do not allow any financial or commercial interests in a particular intervention, or an organisation providing cosmetic interventions, to adversely affect standards of good patient care.

This guidance does not apply to interventions that amount to female genital mutilation (FGM), which is illegal in the UK. If you are not sure whether a particular cosmetic intervention falls within the legal definition of FGM1 then you must seek advice, eg from your defence organisation or your employer’s legal department.