Sunday, June 26, 2016

Australia - Children must wait three months before major cosmetic surgery: new guidelines

Cosmetic surgery crackdown: New cooling off period

Australia's booming cosmetic surgery industry will undergo a major crackdown, with the Medical Board introducing tough new guidelines for doctors.

Children planning major cosmetic surgery will be subject to a three-month cooling off period and must pass an independent mental health check under new national standards.

The Medical Board of Australia will on Monday release new guidelines for doctors performing all cosmetic procedures, from anti-ageing injections to full body makeovers.

They require a seven-day cooling off period for adults before major procedures, and impose a mandatory requirement that doctors prescribing anti-ageing injections and dermal fillers see the patient – at least by video – before doing so.

Joanna Flynn, chairwoman of the medical board, said the public guidelines should send the message that all surgery is serious and requires proper consideration by patients.

"Ultimately our job is to protect patients and we are aware that some patients are harmed by cosmetic procedures and we want to reduce that risk," Dr Flynn said. 

"We want to do it in a way that doesn't absolutely restrict patients' rights, but to make sure that the doctors' responsibilities are very clear."

The guidelines add to national regulations governing all Australian doctors and have come after draft guidelines were opened to public consultation last year.

After a reaction from nurses, who administer injections, and their patients during the consultation the board allowed the face-to-face consultations with a doctor to be done by video conference but not by telephone alone.

Patients must also be given detailed written information about the costs of procedures, and doctors who perform them must take "explicit responsibility" for their care after the surgery and make sure emergency medical facilities are available during it.

The independent evaluations on a patient before they undergo major cosmetic surgery are also mandatory for adults and can be done by a psychologist, psychiatrist or general practitioner.

Doctors who flout the rules will be subject to disciplinary action and can be stripped of their licence to practise medicine.

"Once the standards are explicit, if a doctor fails to meet them they can be called to account for that, [and] asked to explain why they have failed to meet those standards," Dr Flynn said.

The board also made recommendations on areas of concern within the increasingly competitive cosmetics sector that they had no power to regulate.

These included strengthening the regulation of private cosmetics facilities, including their use of sedatives and anaesthesia and dealing with regulatory inconsistencies between jurisdictions.

The guidelines take effect on October 1 and will be reviewed every three years.

Rania Spooner

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