Cosmetic surgery to continue to be unregulated into the new year

Ireland is unlikely to have statutory regulations on cosmetic procedures in place by the end of the year, despite the Department of Health identifying cosmetic surgery as “one of their priority areas”.

Although earlier reports stated that the Department of Health aimed to have legislative proposals ready for the Health Minister’s consideration by the end of the year, a representative of the Department avoided giving a specific answer when questioned by, saying it “should be finalised in the near future”.

President of the Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons, Patricia Eadie, who has been campaigning for regulation of cosmetic procedures for nearly a decade explained what the cosmetic industry is lacking is “safe treatment of patients, done by fully qualified surgeons who are on the Specialist Register of the Irish Medical Council in appropriate facilities”.

Eadie said “I can remember giving a presentation [petitioning for regulation] to the Minister for Health Mary Harney 7 or 8 years ago, and many more senior colleagues were campaigning before me.

“To enact legislation in this country is often a long, drawn out process and unless there is a ‘crisis’ or specific champion for a cause, then a lot seems to get put on a long finger.”

The dangers of cosmetic surgery came to the forefront of media attention recently when an estimated 1,900 Irish women were given breast implants manufactured by the French company Poly Implant Prothese which were filled with non-medical grade silicone that were unfit for human use.

According to the Irish Medical Times, over 200 (11%) of Irish women who received PIP implants reported rupturing. The abnormally high rupture rates resulted in anxiety and panic from many of the Irish patients who received implants.

South-Dublin based GP Elva Dalton commented on the current situation regarding the cosmetic industry:

“There are a number of issues with the cosmetic industry at the moment. First of all any doctor can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon without formal qualifications, training or experience. Likewise, anyone can open a cosmetic clinic as there are no standards to be adhered to on the facilities and substances used”, she said.

“Another concern is that cosmetic surgery is unnecessary surgery. Usually when a patient undergoes invasive surgery they are referred to a surgeon by their doctor but the nature of the cosmetics industry means that consumers pick their own surgeons through word of mouth or a glossy unrealistic advertisement.”

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