New Guidelines on Cosmetic Treatment agreed by World Medical Association

(11.10.2014) New guidelines about the practice of cosmetic treatment have been agreed by the World Medical Association.

Meeting in Durban, South Africa, delegates at the WMA's annual Assembly adopted a statement expressing concern that in many countries aesthetic procedures are not adequately regulated, particularly when it involves children. They agreed new guidelines, primarily for physicians, warning that many treatments involve risks and may potentially harm the health of the patient. 

The guidelines say: ‘Body image affects a person's self-esteem and mental health and is an integral part of a person's overall health and well-being. However, media images of “perfect bodies” have become the norm, causing some people, to develop unrealistic and unhealthy body images.'

Dr. Xavier Deau, President of the WMA, said: ‘This type of treatment has become increasingly common in recent years as people become more preoccupied with their physical appearance. We are talking about treatment or surgery not for an injury or a deformity, but for non-therapeutic reasons, with the sole purpose of changing the physical appearance of an individual. And we are particularly concerned that children are vulnerable, as their bodies are often not fully developed.'

The guidelines say that minors may need or benefit from plastic medical treatment but that pure aesthetic procedures should not be performed on them. The statement says: ‘If, in exceptional cases, aesthetic treatment is performed on a minor, it should only be done with special care and consideration and only if the aim of the treatment is to avoid negative attention rather than gain positive attention'.

Dr. Deau said: ‘We have also said that advertising and marketing of aesthetic treatments should never be targeted at minors.'

The guidelines also state that these treatments are performed by practitioners with widely differing clinical and educational backgrounds and that they must only be performed by practitioners with sufficient knowledge, skills and experience. Therefore all practitioners providing aesthetic treatments must be registered with or licensed by the appropriate regulatory authority. Ideally, the practitioner should also be authorized by this authority to provide these specific aesthetic treatments.