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The new cosmetic surgery guideline – psychological assessments

The Royal College of Surgeons’ new code of practice requires patients to be considered for psychological assessment before surgery by practitioners and has been widely welcomed by aesthetic clinicians.

These guidelines are a reminder to all aesthetic clinicians to be vigilant about pre-existing psychological issues that may seriously impact the outcome of any treatment. It is equally important to consider the impact a treatment could have on the patient and his/her psychological health. In patients with anxiety disorders or body dysmorphic syndrome any treatment may in fact make problems worse, as patients’ negative perceptions of themselves may be the primary problem.

It is not always easy to recognise which patients should be psychologically assessed or offered counselling before treatment is considered, and certainly more robust guidelines, and indeed training initiatives, should be developed. Most aesthetic clinicians are probably more likely to decline treatment to a patient outright, rather than go to the trouble (and perhaps cost) of referring to a psychologist only to be advised against treating anyway.

At the Aura Clinic London we have been looking at ways to approach this problem in a way that is sensitive towards such patients, and we certainly have therapists we can refer to if we think this is the best recommendation for the patient. We remain convinced however that it is only a small minority of patients in whom psychological referral would be indicated. We find that the vast majority of our patients tend to be well informed, well researched, and with coherent objectives and expectations of their aesthetic treatment.

If you have any questions, we can be contacted on +44 (0) 203 398 1524 or at [email protected], where one of our trained aesthetic doctors will respond to you.