Cosmetic Surgery and Non-Surgical Procedures

Your rights will be different depending on whether the procedure is surgical or non-surgical. 

Cosmetic surgery is a form of plastic surgery, and is a surgical procedure involving the restoration, reconstruction, or alteration of the human body for aesthetic reasons. This should be carried out by a registered, qualified surgeon and will usually involve an anaesthetic. The most popular examples of this are breast augmentation, liposuction, nose reshaping, eyelid surgery and facelifts.

Non-surgical cosmetic procedures are minimally invasive procedures, often quicker and more affordable than cosmetic surgery. They are considered less risky and are carried out without anaesthetic. The most popular examples of this are anti-wrinkle injections, derma fillers, laser hair removal and chemical peels. These treatments do not legally require the practitioner to be medically trained.

What rights do consumers have?

Your rights, and where to complain about cosmetic procedures, differs between surgical and non-surgical procedures.

Surgical Procedures

Surgical procedures must be performed by a registered, qualified surgeon who specialises is cosmetic surgery. The GMC (General Medical Council) has a specialist register for cosmetic surgeons.

If your procedure was carried out by Health and Social Care services or funded by Health and Social Care services, and you are unhappy with the treatment that you received, you may make a complaint to the relevant Health and Social Care Trust who provided the service for you or who commissioned the service. Each Health and Social Care Trust has a Complaints Department for this purpose.

If you require advice and support on making your complaint, an independent complaints support service is provided by the Patient and Client Council. This service is independent of the Health and Social Care Board and Trusts, is confidential and is free to use. You can contact the Patient and Client Council by calling 0800 917 0222 or by email at

Please note that the Patient and Client Council cannot assist with complaints about private treatment and care.

If you feel the surgeon who carried out your procedure could possess a risk to future patients, you should contact the GMC.

Non-Surgical Procedures

Non-surgical procedures do not have to be carried out by a surgeon, doctor or nurse. Some products (e.g. Botox) require a prescription but others (e.g. fillers) do not. The level of training required to carry out procedures such as fillers and chemical peels is low. The website has a list of Northern Ireland clinics where staff are accredited and abide by specific standards.

Non-surgical procedures are considered a service, and therefore complaints about such procedures should be made to Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.