Undertrained ‘Beauty Surgeons’ Jeopardising Patient Safety

Ensuring patient safety is the cornerstone of our work as surgeons. As the umbrella body of all surgical societies, we also recognise the need to address broader issues, beyond our individual practice.

One such concern is the unsettling presence of undertrained “beauty surgeons”  jeopardising patient safety through the use of misleading titles.

In an ESPRAS survey that encompassed 23 countries, we discovered that a high level of training is required for board certification. This is a safety standard that patients rightfully expect, but are unwittingly missing out on when opting for treatment with an often under-qualified and usually cheaper, ˜beauty surgeons” or “cosmetic doctor”.

Why this is happening is the key to stopping the trend. The financial lure of both aesthetic surgery and non-surgical aesthetics is attracting individuals to pursue these areas as career choices, whilst being significantly under-qualified. As an example, a paramedic could take on this title with just basic learning from a few weekend courses or a short plastic surgery attachment. This scenario is in stark contrast to the extensive multi-year training and rigorous certification processes undertaken by board-certified surgeons. The disparities between the two are startling, yet result in the same public perception and level of trust.

All ESPRAS member surgeons have appropriate multi-year training in aesthetic surgery, and ESPRAS is calling for a comprehensive approach to protect the public from undertrained individuals, who may not have comparable training in emergency care or in treating complications, or even have experience performing the surgery or procedure previously. ESPRAS President, Riccardo Giunta, says:

The public is generally uninformed about the necessary safety training. Patients may believe that a professional with the title of Aesthetic Surgeon or Cosmetic Doctor has the appropriate training to ensure their safety, but this may not be the case. These professionals may lack essential knowledge of potential complications and their management, and may not have performed the surgery or procedure previously. Unregulated commercial organisations perpetuate this issue, leading to the pseudo-legitimisation of undertrained individuals. Furthermore, although surgeons of other specialties have surgical training, they have not been trained in aesthetic surgery, and have not demonstrated their clinical competence in this specialty.

There is a need for all plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeons to be board-certified, mitigating the risk of undertrained individuals being able to call themselves surgeons. We need to make the public aware of these dangers facing them, and empower them to choose a surgeon who has the qualifications required to keep them safe and ensure their wellbeing, throughout surgery and beyond. Our work in safeguarding the wellbeing of patients across Europe continues with vigour.

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