The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) has chosen body image as the theme for its Mental Health Awareness Week this year.
“Body image issues can affect all of us at any age. During the week we will be publishing new research, considering some of the reasons why our body image can impact the way that we feel, campaigning for change and publishing practical tools.”
The increased awareness of the impact of a negative body image on personal well being often leads to patients requesting cosmetic interventions. Recently Stephen Powis National Medical Director of NHS England has endorsed the view that providers should be officially registered and trained to spot people with body-image or other mental-health issues. For Cosmetic Surgery the Royal College of Surgeons have introduced the RCS Certification Scheme through which clinicians receive formal training as part of a professional masterclass. Patients are able to access this register in a similar manner in which those patients wishing to undergo non surgical cosmetic treatments can access the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners registry.
Mr Gary Ross who became the first cosmetic surgeon to be certified through the Royal College of Surgeons in 2017 and has been using psychological screening tools for a number of years has seen an increase in patients requesting cosmetic surgery.
“There has been an increase in patients requesting cosmetic surgery in recent years and there has also been an increase in requests from patients with underlying psychological issues”
Mr Gary Ross has piloted a direct referral pathway with CBT clinics, who are a specialist nationwide provider of psychological healthcare services in order to provide an effective and efficient means of assessment for patients.
“I have been referring all young patients under 21 and all patients with a past history of psychological issues and any patient in which there has been a concern following psychological screening to CBT clinics for further assessment of their psychological needs, especially in regards to the presence of Body Dysmorphia or Eating Disorder”
“This pilot has been well received by patients and gives patients, clinicians and providers reassurances that cosmetic surgery is in the patients best interest. For many patients I believe a formal assessment should be mandatory prior to consideration of cosmetic surgery”
There is now increased awareness amongst society that there are pros/cons and risks of cosmetic procedures and the need for patients to be fully informed. The psychological risks are often overlooked and it is refreshing that the cosmetic industry is highlighting the awareness of psychological well being in order to prevent avoidable harm.
Although the majority of patients describe an improvement being following cosmetic surgery it is important that cosmetic surgery should not be seen as a quick fix and patients well being in both the short and long term need to be considered both physically and mentally.
Mr Ross adds “Through long term outcome studies we are now beginning to understand the importance of patient selection and to predict those patients who are most likely to benefit from cosmetic surgery and most importantly those patients who may be at risk”