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RCOG statement on new professional standards for cosmetic practice published by the Royal College of Surgeons

News 29 January 2013

New professional standards for cosmetic practice are published today by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS). Aimed at all doctors, dentists and nurses involved in cosmetic practice, the comprehensive document entitled Professional Standards for Cosmetic Practice, focuses on the behaviour and competencies medical professionals should be expected to demonstrate when providing cosmetic procedures.

The standards have been developed by a working group of key professionals including surgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists and dermatologists. Key points in the document include:

  • Practitioners have a duty to manage a patient’s expectations of how they will feel after treatment. They should not imply that patients will feel ‘better’ or ‘look nicer’, and should instead use unambiguous language.
  • All practitioners should consider whether they should refer a patient to a clinical psychologist before proceeding with further consultations or treatments. Pre-procedure discussions should include the disclosure of relevant psychiatric history.
  • Marketing and advertising must be honest and responsible.
  • The RCS recommends that only licensed doctors, registered dentists and registered nurses who have undertaken appropriate training should provide any cosmetic treatment.

Dr Tony Falconer, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) says:

“This document provides much needed guidance for clinicians. In the case of female genital cosmetic surgery, the majority of procedures are undertaken in the private sector with little regulation. The demand for cosmetic surgery is increasing, however, there is little evidence on its long term effects.

“This document firmly places women at the centre of care and clinicians have a duty to ensure patients have all the information they need to make an informed decision. This includes information on the risks involved, consideration of the need for psychological support and information on what to expect before and after the procedure.

“We are concerned about the growing number of young women opting for cosmetic gynaecological surgery as under the age of 18 the external genitalia may still be developing. Both women and gynaecologists should be aware of the variation that exists in genital appearance and think carefully about exploring the idea of surgery if it is not clinically necessary.

“Clearly there are women who undergo gynaecological surgery for clinical reasons to alleviate problems that cause sexual dysfunction or discomfort.

“It is also important to consider the role advertisers play and they have a duty to provide accurate information to women.”


For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email

The full report can be found here.