In an urgent call-to-action, the European Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (ESPRAS) has highlighted a growing concern over under-trained ‘beauty surgeons’ practicing without the requisite qualifications. Some of these practitioners, ESPRAS warns, might not have undergone comprehensive training in plastic surgery, or worse, any surgical training at all.

ESPRAS, which represents national associations in plastic surgery across Europe, ensures that all its member plastic surgeons have undergone advanced multi-year training in plastic surgery. However, it points out that in most European countries, laws do not prohibit medical doctors without specialization, and in some cases, even paramedics, from referring to themselves as “aesthetic surgeons” or “beauty doctors.”

Riccardo Giunta, ESPRAS President and consultant plastic surgeon in Munich, Germany, underscores the potential risk to patient safety. “The financial allure of both aesthetic surgery and non-surgical aesthetics attracts many individuals,” he says, adding that the public is generally uninformed about the standard of care in training.

Giunta further warns that patients might believe that professionals with these titles have the appropriate qualifications to ensure safety, but this might not be the case. “They may not have passed the standards of a board-certified plastic surgeon and lack essential knowledge,” he explains, suggesting that unregulated commercial organizations could contribute to this problem.

ESPRAS recently conducted a survey across 23 European countries to assess levels of education and specialization in plastic surgery. The results highlighted the high level of training required for board certification, underscoring the potential risks of opting for a practitioner who is not trained to this standard.

In its position paper, ESPRAS calls for patient safety to take precedence over financial gain. It is working to support national legislation that would provide clear regulation of aesthetic surgery across Europe, and is urging the public to be aware of the dangers of under-trained practitioners.