Cosmetic surgery: falling numbers due to PIP breast implant scandal?

Tuesday, 27 January 2015 15:12

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has just released data that shows a 9% fall in the number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed last year.

According to the data 45,406 cosmetic surgical procedures were performed in 2014 - down from 50,122 in 2013. ‘Boob jobs’ (breast augmentation surgery) and ‘nose jobs’ (rhinoplasty) saw the biggest reduction, with the number of operations down by nearly a quarter.

Despite the fall in numbers, breast augmentation remained the most common procedure for women. For men, it was eyelid surgery (overtaking rhinoplasty for the first time).

By volume, the top 10 procedures performed in 2014 were:

  • Breast augmentation - 8,619 (down 23% on 2013)
  • Eyelid surgery - 7,752 (down 1%)
  • Face and neck lifts - 6,402 (up 1%)
  • Breast reduction - 5,528 (up 1%)
  • Liposuction - 4,627 (up 7%)
  • Rhinoplasty - 3,690 (down 24%)
  • Fat transfer operations - 3,155 (down 4%)
  • Tummy tucks - 2,713 (down 20%)
  • Brow lifts - 1,978 (down 7%)
  • Ear corrections – 942 (down 20%)

The 23% fall in the number of breast augmentation procedures can be partly explained by the scandal in 2012 affecting thousands of women who were provided with substandard breast implants made by the French firm Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP).

The number of breast augmentation procedures in 2013 was likely to have been artificially inflated as many women sought replacements. As those cases have now worked themselves through the system, numbers have dropped back to their more usual level.

The cosmetic surgery industry has been under increased scrutiny since the PIP scandal. There are now calls for new rules on doctors offering cosmetic surgery. Last week the Royal College of Surgeons said that doctors should be prevented from performing cosmetic surgery outside their specialty. In a story reported by the BBC the Royal College apparently said the current rules allowed "GPs to do nose jobs" and that was "a big problem" for patients. It wants a new system of certified surgeons who have proved they are able to perform procedures adequately.

As a specialist medical negligence solicitor I have seen many poorly performed cosmetic procedures over the years. The consequences for the (often vulnerable) patients involved can be devastating. Anything that raises the quality of surgery on offer must be welcomed - a view shared by each of my colleagues at Davies and Partners Solicitors in North Devon, Bristol, Birmingham, Gloucester and London.

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