Skip to main content

From Facials to Facelifts

Petition calls for legislation to protect the public from beauticians and non-GMC registered cosmetic cowboys performing surgical procedures in the U.K.


“Currently there is more legislation to protect your dog while having surgery, than to protect a patient undergoing a cosmetic operation.” says Marc Pacifico President Elect of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.


Cosmetic surgery should only be performed by surgeons on the GMC Specialist Register in a relevant area e.g., plastic surgery. That’s the call being made by The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (The BAAPS) – the UK’s only organisation solely dedicated to advancing safety, innovation and excellence in cosmetic surgery – as it launches a petition to raise surgical safety standards in the UK. 

Currently, there is a lack of legislation that determines who can and cannot perform cosmetic surgery meaning that untrained doctors and even beauticians are performing surgical procedures in the UK. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (The BAAPS) feels strongly that this should be addressed with the aim of improving safety and outcomes for the public.  Nearly a decade after the Keogh review shone a light on substandard practises and highlighted the plight of the 39,000 women who suffered during the PIP crisis, there is still no legislation to define who can perform cosmetic surgery in the UK.

A BAAPS survey showed that 80% of members have experienced a rise in requests for ‘revisional’ – fixing botched procedures – work and an audit revealed a 44% rise in botched surgery from abroad. 

Complications can also lead to deadly consequences; the death of Denise Hendry, the wife of former Scotland football captain Colin Hendry was a high-profile case that highlighted the dangers of cosmetic surgery. Her surgeon was not on the GMC Specialist Register, did not have adequate insurance and was not equipped to deal with the complications that required emergency transfer to the NHS and multiple operations to correct the problems from which she later died.

BAAPS is rallying behind the call that appropriately trained surgeons should appear on the General Medical Council’s (GMC) Specialist Register, giving patients a “triple whammy” of protection. It’s one simple requirement that addresses the top three reasons why patients suffer unnecessarily when undergoing cosmetic surgery:

  1. Legislation to check the GMC Specialist Register, in a relevant area e.g., plastic surgery will clarify the distinction between surgeons who are fully trained to a consultant level. 
  2. It will ensure that surgeons performing the operation will have access to adequate medical insurance which is NOT available to practitioners who are not on the GMC Specialist Register.
  3. The GMC Specialist Register, allows surgeons access to work in premises that are equipped to not only perform the procedure, but to treat serious complications should they occur. 

BAAPS President Elect Marc Pacifico said, “Legislation that will clarify the distinction between providers to safeguard the public from serious complications at the hands of untrained and unregulated practitioners, is long overdue. Legislation to ensure a surgeon is on the GMC Specialist Register, will transform patient safety in the UK. Currently there is more legislation to protect your dog while having surgery, than to protect a patient undergoing a cosmetic operation.” 

BAAPS Vice President Nora Nugent added, “It’s a fact that practitioners can bamboozle the public by saying they are either “fully registered” with the GMC or “board certified”, a qualification that does not even exist in the UK. Neither of these statements is equivalent to the surgeon being on the GMC Specialist Register in a relevant area like plastic surgery. In fact, if a practitioner does not explicitly say they are, it probably means they are not, which is why it’s so important for legislation to make the distinction crystal clear.”

Immediate Past President Mary O’Brien said, “There is a need to stop non-surgeons carrying out cosmetic surgery, which this petition should help achieve. The general public and Government need a clear distinction between who is allowed to perform this type of surgery and who is not. Legislation would mean Surgeons from abroad could not fly in to the UK, perform a cosmetic surgery operation on a patient and then fly out. If successful, this will stop beauticians and untrained doctors from performing surgical procedures and causing patient’s harm. It is the start of a long journey, but this initial step would considerably improve the current position in the UK. If we get the signatures and legislation, this could make the biggest difference to patient safety in cosmetic surgery ever seen in the UK.”


To sign the petition and support BAAPS, visit:


View other press releases