A negative body image can affect an individual’s personal wellbeing, and this often leads to cosmetic interventions. Mr Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of NHS England, has recently endorsed the view that providers should be officially registered and trained to recognise patients with body-image or other mental-health issues.
For Cosmetic Surgery the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) have introduced the RCS Certification Scheme through which clinicians receive formal training and as part of a professional masterclass. Mr Gary Ross, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the BMI The Alexandra Hospital, became the first cosmetic surgeon to be certified through the Royal College of Surgeons in 2017 and has been using psychological screening tools for several years. He stated:
‘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. He stated:
‘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 patient’s best interest. For many patients I believe a formal assessment should be mandatory prior to consideration of cosmetic surgery.’
“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, most patients describe an improvement, following cosmetic surgery, it is important that cosmetic surgery should not be seen as a quick fix and patients well-being is considered. Mr Ross stated:
‘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.’