PIP Breast Implants Ireland Update 24th January 2012

BAAPS statement a welcome contribution to the debate on cosmetic surgery regulation

Having witnessed the anguish and worry that the Irish women who are affected by the PIP breast implant scandal have been forced to undergo, it’s hard to see any positive aspect to this whole sorry saga.

But in a strange way there may be one positive thing to emerge from the calamity.  There have been several occasions over the years when the dodgy side of the cosmetic surgery industry has become the subject of media scrutiny.  However, the attention has usually been confined to commentators with a specific interest in the field and has been short-lived.

As a result, the several controversies that have arisen over the years have not had any significant consequences in the longer term, with unscrupulous practitioners being free to get back to business as usual after the furore eventually died down.

The sheer scale and extent of the PIP breast implant scandal means that, this time, things might be different.  There is hope that the sense of outrage that prevails may be harnessed to drive meaningful reform of the sector.

In this regard the statement made yesterday by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) is to be welcomed.  The BAAPS has set out a six-point plan which it claims will lead to a safer and more consumer-friendly cosmetic surgery market if followed.

The six points are as follows:

  • Ban all advertising of cosmetic surgery.
  • Establish an implant register.
  • Classify dermal fillers as medicines and control them accordingly.
  • Impose compulsory registration of practitioners in aesthetic medicine and lasers.
  • Conduct mandatory safety audits.
  • Revalidate CE marking of medical devices.

This contribution by the BAAPS is to be welcomed and is as important in this country as it is in Britain.  As with so many other situations in the past, it is probable that this country will follow the lead which is shown to it by the UK when it comes to adopting the appropriate response to the PIP breast implant debacle.

What we need now is a meaningful and informed debate which will eventually lead to the effective regulation of the cosmetic surgery sector.

Some may have legitimate concerns with one or more of the proposals put forward by the BAAPS.  For example, it might be argued that an outright ban on advertising cosmetic surgery services would amount to an extreme form of nanny-statism.

But as long as the effect of BAAPS’s proposals is to engender a dialogue which ultimately delivers meaningful reform of the industry so that rogue practitioners are prevented from inflicting any more harm, it can only be seen as a good thing.

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John McCarthy specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims. His practice focuses on high-value compensation cases. John qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and holds a diploma in civil litigation. This specialist qualification in the area of personal injury and medical negligence litigation, is awarded by the Law Society of Ireland.