There are a number of associations under whose auspices qualified doctors and surgeons now provide cosmetic procedures. The British Association of Cosmetic Doctors (BACD) is one of those. Practitioners belonging to this association carry out minor surgical or nonsurgical procedures which, because they are less invasive than traditional ‘facelifts’ and other major cosmetic surgery, are becoming increasingly popular. These include the injection of muscle relaxants such as Botox, the use of fillers, treatments involving lasers which improve the quality of the skin and peels. These treatments don’t require general anaesthetic so, apart from being safer in that respect, do not impact to the same degree on the patient’s day-to-day life.

I was interested to find out why Dr Curran had chosen this particular branch of medicine. ‘Medicine is medicine and I love medicine,’ he explained. ‘In this area we are responding to the needs of the patient and, like in any other branch of medicine, we are aiming to reach standards of excellence. People who undergo the cosmetic procedures we provide are generally extremely happy and we get wonderful feedback from them, which, as a doctor, is very gratifying.’

He accepts that there are patients who might become obsessed with cosmetic treatments, a condition known as body dysmorphia, where the patient, rather like someone suffering from anorexia, will always see themselves as imperfect. But as qualified doctors, members of the BACD are trained to recognise this and will refuse treatment in those cases.

John Curran is one of only three Fellows of the BACD, the election to which office he is justifiably proud. ‘It is the highest professional honour that your colleagues can bestow,’ he explained. The association has some 400 members, all of whom must be registered with the General Medical Council. The association recognises that the field of cosmetic medicine is unregulated so aims, through its mission statement, to provide ‘open access to information so that patients can easily source appropriately trained and experienced doctors’. ‘The association intends to drive cosmetic medicine forwards, to reduce unwarranted and undesirable aspects of its reputation and gain the respect enjoyed by all specialised branches of medicine.’

John Curran has been involved with the BACD for some ten years and has been its president for two. His election as a Fellow of the association was based on a number of criteria including excellence in practice, the academic contribution he has made (he was involved in writing the standards for his branch of medicine) and his work in training young doctors.

‘It is a huge honour and I am extremely proud,’ he says. But there is more work to be done to ensure that cosmetic medicine continues to meet the standards expected by patients and the medical profession and he intends to be part of that work.