Aesthetic practices by doctors are regulated

The article on July 31 (Cousins who gave up banking for beauty (sector)) referred to aesthetic practices by general practitioners (GPs), preventative medicine, anti-ageing and DNA testing.

The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) reminds the public that such practices by doctors in the healthcare industry are regulated.

The SMC published two important guidelines last year, the updated SMC Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines and the Guidelines on Aesthetic Practices for Doctors.

All registered doctors in Singapore should familiarise themselves with these updated guidelines and be aware of the ethics and regulations that apply.

These guidelines serve to safeguard patients and uphold professional standards.

Aesthetic medical practice is different from other medical practices, as the objective of aesthetic practice is not treatment of disease or improvement of health, but pertains to external appearance. Thus, individuals who seek aesthetic procedures may be more vulnerable to persuasive advertising and advice.

Such aesthetic practices must not only do no harm, but must also benefit the patient positively. The doctor has a duty to ensure that the treatments are always safe and efficacious in achieving the desired objective.

We remind doctors who choose to carry out aesthetic procedures that they have the professional responsibility to treat patients according to generally accepted methods and perform only procedures covered under the guidelines.

We cannot agree with the statement in the article: "If you understand aesthetics, most of them are GP doctors - (but) there's actually no specialisation at all required."

This is not the understanding in the Guidelines on Aesthetic Practices for Doctors, which state that certain aesthetic procedures can be done only by specialists. General practitioners who carry out certain aesthetic procedures require certification in accredited courses or the ability to demonstrate that they have done the requisite number of procedures safely.

The public are advised that aesthetic procedures, preventative medicine, anti-ageing and DNA testing may not meet their needs or expectations and are often costly. Complaints of any impropriety in such practices by doctors should be reported to the SMC.

Tan Ser Kiat (Professor)


Singapore Medical Council

Ho Lai Yun (Professor)


Aesthetic Practice Oversight Committee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2017, with the headline 'Aesthetic practices by doctors are regulated'. Print Edition | Subscribe