3. Can a young person under the age of 18 receive a plastic surgery despite the opposition from parents?
In general, a person who has attained the age of 18 has the capacity to give consent in Hong Kong. There is no specific law governing plastic surgery but for medical treatment. According to the Medical Council of Hong Kong's Code of Professional Conduct Guide, consent given by a child patient is not valid unless the child is capable of understanding the nature and implication of the proposed medical treatment. If the child is not capable of such understanding, consent has to be obtained from the child’s parent or guardian. If the parental agreement is not obtained, medical practitioners could only lawfully act to safeguard a child’s life or health on the basis of necessity. In practice, although it is not a legal requirement, many public and private hospitals in Hong Kong require parental consent for a child under 18 to undergo medical treatment.
Parents’ right to determine the treatment is not absolute and could be overruled by the court considering the best interest of the child. In some cases, plastic surgery may be required after cancer, trauma or severe abnormalities that could have major impact on the child’s health and welfare.
Some medical instruments, medication and implants may have a suggested minimum age for warranty by the manufacturer and it is highly unlikely a registered medical practitioner would take such risk for purely cosmetic purposes, although strictly speaking it may not be illegal to use such medical device.