Invasive medical procedures restricted for minors

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Sep 13, 2013 - Page 4

Taiwan’s health authorities issued a directive on Wednesday instructing healthcare facilities not to perform invasive plastic surgery, such as breast implants, fat removal or rhinoplasty, on people aged under 18.

“The new measure is designed to protect adolescents’ physical and mental health,” said Lee Wei-chiang (李偉強), head of the Department of Medical Affairs at the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The administrative order came after a consensus among members of the ministry’s

cosmetic surgery advisory committee, which suggested making age a consideration in managing the nation’s cosmetic surgery sector, Lee said.

Within this week, all hospitals and medical clinics around the country are to be informed of the directive. Physicians who violate it will be subject to a fine of up to NT$200,000 based on the Physicians Act (醫師法), Lee said.

Also, health inspectors have been assigned to reinforce checks on medical care institutions to watch for irregularities, the official said.

The experts on the cosmetic surgery advisory committee decided on not allowing invasive plastic surgery, including

suction-assisted fat removal, breast implants, nose jobs and double eyelid surgery, for minors because their bodies have not yet fully grown.

Invasive plastic surgery will be allowed on underaged patients, however, if there is a legitimate medical reason, such as removing body odor or scars.

In such cases, young people will need the consent of their legal guardians to have the operations done, and the guardians must be at the clinic when the operation is performed.

The ministry has divided cosmetic surgery into three main categories: phototherapy, injections, and invasive treatment. The first two categories, involving treatments using lasers and hyaluronic acid injections, are considered non-invasive procedures and there are no age restrictions imposed on them; they can be performed on patients under 18 years old.

According to ministry statistics, there have been at least 800 patients under 20 years of age undergoing cosmetic surgery procedures each year in Taiwan. Ninety five percent of those procedures are non-invasive.