The Importance of Mental Health Checks Prior to Cosmetic Surgery


It was more than a year ago that Superdrug announced it was to introduce tougher mental health checks prior to performing cosmetic surgery on individuals following criticism by the NHS.

The NHS has, for a while, expressed concern about the impact of cosmetic procedures on persons with mental health disorders including body dysmorphic disorder which is where people become fixated about what they perceive to be flaws in their appearance which are actually unnoticeable to others.

Cosmetic procedures are now readily available and often do not require mental health checks.  Superdrug offers Botox (an injection of botulinum toxin designed to relax muscles to temporarily hide facial lines and wrinkles) and dermal fillers (targeted injections under the skin designed to fill skin creases or lead to bigger lips).

Many body dysmorphic disorder sufferers, as well as other people have been very unsatisfied with the results of their cosmetic procedures.  Put  another way, they quite simply wish that they had never bothered to have the procedure done and to have incurred the expense of the procedure.

It is therefore imperative for those who are to undergo cosmetic procedures and surgery to have a mental health assessment and if any concerns are raised during the assessment, then the individuals should at the very least be referred to their GP and ideally to any treating psychiatrist or mental health counsellor prior to undergoing the cosmetic procedure.

It is important to bear in mind that cosmetic surgery is elective surgery which is often very expensive and can end up costing thousands and even tens of thousands of pounds.  There is often no medical need for the surgery.  For example, we at Hart Brown have come across cases where clients have paid for Gastric Band surgery when they have not even been sufficiently obese to meet the NICE guidelines for patients who are suitable for this surgery.

Even more significantly, we have acted for clients who have been rushed into parting with their money to pay for cosmetic surgery notwithstanding significant psychiatric problems without undergoing a proper psychiatric assessment prior to surgery.  We have dealt with cases involving clients who have had blepharoplasty (plastic surgery to correct disfiguration of eyelids) and bariatric surgery who have a significant psychiatric history and who have undergone cosmetic surgery which has failed, resulting in the client suffering increased physical injury as well as further psychiatric injury.  In these cases, our medico-legal experts assessing the clients have indicated in no uncertain terms that, if the client had undergone a psychiatric/psychological assessment prior to the surgery, any reasonable psychologist/psychiatrist  would have recommended that the surgery should definitely not proceed due to the fact that the client did not medically need the surgery and was also psychiatrically unwell.

The upshot of this is therefore that persons undergoing cosmetic surgery must undergo a thorough mental health assessment before spending their money and embarking upon the procedure.

To discuss anything related to this blog, please contact Gerard Sanders on 01483 887766 or start a live chat.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues. 


Gerard Sanders

Partner, Head of Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence

Gerard qualified with a large regional firm in 1991. Since 1995 he has specialised exclusively on claimant personal injury work. More recently he has focused...

Gerard Sanders - Head of Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence

Partner, Head of Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence

Gerard Sanders

Gerard qualified with a large regional firm in 1991. Since 1995 he has specialised exclusively on claimant personal injury work. More recently he has focused on complex higher value clinical negligence and personal injury claims, achieving seven figure settlements in personal injury cases involving amputation, multiple orthopaedic injuries and head injuries.

His greatest success has been winning the high profile case of Delaney-v-The Secretary of State for Transport where after almost 9 years of litigation involving two Court of Appeal hearings and an application to the Supreme Court he was finally able to establish that the Motor Insurers’ Bureau Agreement was incompatible with EEC law. As a direct result of the decision in this case the agreement has had to be amended to the benefit of many future victims of uninsured drivers.

Gerard is a member of the Law Society’s Personal Injury Panel and he appears in the latest Legal 500 rankings in the fields of personal injury and clinical negligence.

Gerard’s other professional qualifications include a Diplome D’Etudes Juridiques Francaises from Strasbourg University.

What do people say about Gerard?

“I have the highest regard for you and your company.” – Dr Philip Steadman , Consultant Psychiatrist.

“He is a pleasure to work with and always gains the absolute best outcome for those who instruct him. He is highly responsive and he has an eye for detail with a sensible overview of the global issues.” – Colin McDevitt, Barrister, 3 Paper Buildings.

“I think that is an excellent outcome!. You have phenomenal negotiation skills. I work with insurers every day and to say the very least they are a challenge!” – client.

“It has been an unbelievably difficult time over the past few years. The decision to have my leg amputated was not particularly easy, nor was the rehabilitation. To do all of that whilst worrying about my case would have quite simply been overwhelming. Having you there meant that I had none of that worry. I have always known as I was in incredibly good hands and that I had nothing to be concerned about… You have made a unfathomably difficult situation immeasurably easier, and I will be forever grateful to you.” – client.