The Specialty of Plastic Surgery started in the First World War with the reconstruction of servicemen who had been mutilated in the conflict. One of the founding fathers was Sir Harold Gillies who went on to use these reconstructive skills to help patients with cosmetic problems: cosmetic surgery was therefore born out of reconstructive surgery and, to this day, all Plastic Surgeons are trained in reconstructive surgery first. The term ‘Plastic’ was used before plastics as we know them now were invented – the term originally meant ‘moulding and shaping’. From the time that Plastic Surgery became a Specialty in its own right, shortly after the Second World War, it covered reconstruction of all areas of the body. Over the next 30 years the Specialty developed and special interest groups started to form. The first meeting of the British Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons was held on in 1979. In 1982 this was renamed The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS)
The aims of BAAPS have remained the same since its foundation, namely to facilitate training in cosmetic surgery through annual meetings at which scientific papers are presented and surgeons of international repute teach their skills. Over 200 surgeons attend the meetings, which form an essential part of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of all surgeons. In addition, the Association has ‘ear marked’ funding for half the costs of the Aesthetic tutor (based at the Royal College of Surgeons of England) and it provides financial awards for surgeons who present the best papers at the annual meeting: these are to enable recipients to travel to international meetings, present their work and gain experience.
BAAPS is also helping to raise the standards of aesthetic/cosmetic surgery around the world by forging close links with the European Association of Societies of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (EASAPS) and also with the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).
A founding principle of the Association remains the education of the public about cosmetic/aesthetic surgery and, particularly, the benefits and risks of procedures. Whilst all Plastic Surgeons are examined at a baseline level of cosmetic surgery in the FRCS (Plast.) exam, to become a member of BAAPS surgeons need to fulfill a number of other criteria. Applications are scrutinized by the Council of BAAPS and then voted on by the membership at the Annual General Meeting. BAAPS demands that its members act both ethically and with probity; membership can be removed after due process if there is evidence of continued failure to act in a manner becoming of a member. However, BAAPS is legally not allowed to be responsible for the training and regulation of Surgeons in cosmetic surgery – that is currently the responsibility of the GMC (General Medical Council). Proposed changes over the next few years will be the introduction of ‘Revalidation’. A fundamental part of this will be the need for every surgeon to keep an accurate record of the cases they have done and BAAPS is developing this part of the Aesthetic/Cosmetic logbook. Compulsory submission of numbers of operations and complication rates is already a requirement for BAAPS members. In addition, BAAPS is working to improve the training in Aesthetic/Cosmetic Surgery, with young surgeons in training going to work with BAAPS members to gain experience. In addition, each region has a BAAPS tutor who will give newly qualified surgeons advice and assistance when they are starting out in independent practice.