Cosmetic Surgery: Regulatory Challenges in a Global Beauty Market

Alexandra Mullock, Danielle Griffiths (Collaborator)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The market for cosmetic surgery tourism is growing with an increase in people travelling abroad for cosmetic surgery. While the reasons for seeking cosmetic surgery abroad may vary the most common reason is financial, but does cheaper surgery abroad carry greater risks? We explore the risks of poorly regulated cosmetic surgery to society generally before discussing how harm might be magnified in the context of cosmetic tourism, where the demand for cheaper surgery drives the market and makes surgery accessible for increasing numbers of people. This contributes to the normalisation of surgical enhancement, creating unhealthy cultural pressure to undergo invasive and risky procedures in the name of beauty. In addressing the harms of poorly regulated surgery, a number of organisations purport to provide a register of safe and ethical plastic surgeons, yet this arguably achieves little and in the absence of improved regulation the risks are likely to grow as the global market expands to meet demand. While the evidence suggests that global regulation is needed, the paper concludes that since a global regulatory response is unlikely, more robust domestic regulation may be the best approach. While domestic regulation may increase the drive towards foreign providers it may also have a symbolic effect which will reduce this drive by making people more aware of the dangers of surgery, both to society and individual physical wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Care Analysis
Early online date28 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Cosmetic Surgery: Regulatory Challenges in a Global Beauty Market'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this