Skip to main content

Sun, sea and silicone: cosmetic surgery tourism trends revealed at groundbreaking conference

Annual Meeting of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) Held in Conjunction with European Association of Societies of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (EASAPS)

Cardiff – 17 September 2009 - The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (, the not-for-profit organisation established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit, today unveil the results of extensive research into cosmetic surgery tourism at their annual conference. The Scientific Meeting takes place at Cardiff City Hall 16-18 September and is held for the first time ever in conjunction with the EASAPS (, an international entity uniting plastic surgery societies from France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal, among other countries.

An internal survey among BAAPS members revealed surprising trends regarding ‘holiday’ surgery. Another study, exploring public perception on this subject, polled 179 randomly selected members at a city centre. Further research unveils some of the less savoury marketing tactics used by cosmetic surgery tourism companies.

Highlights of BAAPS internal poll:

More than a quarter (26%) of surgeons said they have noted an increase in the amount of patients over the last 18 months that have experienced complications stemming from cosmetic surgery ‘holidays’

Half of surgeons (50%) stated that they have noted no change in the amount of patients experiencing problems, despite the economic downturn

One in 10 surgeons have seen between 7-9 patients over the same period with problems resulting from holiday surgery, nearly a third (29%) saw between 4-6 and half (50%) of those polled have seen at least 1-3

One BAAPS member stated seeing over 16 problem cases (nearly one per month!) resulting from cosmetic surgery tourism

Highlights of public opinion survey:

Nearly half of those polled (46%) have considered undergoing cosmetic surgery and of these, almost all (97%) would consider having the treatment abroad

Nearly 4 out of 5 (78%) stated that if complications were encountered they would use NHS services. The top three reasons given (in this order) were because there is better quality of care, the NHS is free, and that as UK taxpayers they’re entitled to treatment

Ten subjects had already undergone a procedure outside the UK. A great majority (70%) were dissatisfied with their post-op care
67% would not consider cosmetic surgery outside the UK if money were no object

According to Nigel Mercer, consultant plastic surgeon and President of the BAAPS and of EASAPS;

“This groundbreaking conference allows us to explore the latest trends and advances in aesthetic plastic surgery so we can promote the highest standards internationally. There are calls for the NHS not to pick up the tab when problems result from cosmetic surgery ‘holidays’ so it’s essential that the public be educated about the options and risks.”

In a new study unveiled at the Scientific Meeting, the search term ‘plastic surgery abroad’ was used in a popular search engine and the first hundred sites were reviewed.

Highlights of websites study:

More than half (55%) just offered online or telephone consultations prior to surgery

UK consultations were offered by less than half (45%) of companies

Nearly two out of five (39%) of the websites didn’t even include details about the actual procedu res, with 90% making no mention whatsoever of risks or possible complications

According to Nigel Mercer;

“It is a serious concern that despite the economic downturn - or perhaps, even because of it - the public is swayed by the promise of cheap surgery without being given the appropriate information to make an informed decision. I find it appalling that most of these companies do not even mention risks, nor do they appear to have in place any mechanism if complications do arise.”

To review the full results of these studies, or to discuss any of the other subjects presented at the Scientific Meeting such as implant-free breast augmentation, back rolls, muffin tops and ‘cankles’ (calves and ankles), a new ‘permanent’ non-surgical nose job, advances in treatment for double chin and jowls, correction of expanded earlobes damaged by trendy ‘tribal gauging’, scarless ‘man boob’ ops, use of stem cells in plastic surgery, bodylifting after massive weight loss, cosmetic surgery postcode lottery or the first-ever study of GP’s attitudes towards cosmetic surgery - please contact the BAAPS Press Office.


The BAAPS (, based at the Royal College of Surgeons, is a not-for-profit organisation, established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit. Members undergo thorough background screening before they can join. Information about specific procedures and surgeons’ contact details can be found on the website, or by contacting their office at 020 7430 1840. Further materials can be posted to members of the public seeking specialised information. BAAPS is also on Twitter:   and Facebook:

For all media enquiries, please contact

View other press releases