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Top surgeon denounces self-professed 'pioneers'

British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons Hits Out at ‘Outrageous’ Marketing Claims

London – 3rd February, 2010 – When approached about claims that a particular surgeon was responsible for “pioneering and introducing most of the cosmetic surgery procedures that are available today”, 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; was moved to denounce this and all unverifiable claims made for the sake of self-promotion. The BAAPS President termed many current marketing tactics ‘immoral’ and reiterated the need for tighter regulation in a ‘Scrubbing Up’ article today on the BBC website.

The BAAPS warns that according to the GMC, any information that appears in print about the services a doctor provides must be verifiable, truthful and they must not make claims that they are better than any other practitioner.

According to consultant plastic surgeons and BAAPS President Nigel Mercer;
“Consider a recent press release issued by a cosmetic surgeon, which states that he has been responsible for “pioneering and introducing most of the cosmetic surgery procedures that are available today.” Despite this claim, the surgeon’s name does not seem to be listed in medical citation databases, or linked to any of the major techniques in use today. Another statement made by this practitioner is that he “pioneered a form of liposuction”, yet the manufacturer’s website lists those who did pioneer the technique and shows pictures of patients treated - not one has this surgeon’s name attached to it. Rest assured, if someone develops a new technique, they will publish it, so how can this surgeon really claim to have “pioneered” these techniques? No matter how technically good, doctors should not make unverifiable claims such as these, which can only be for the sake self-promotion.”

He adds;
“It is important that the public beware the marketing that goes on in the cosmetic industry and the outrageous claims that can be made by the PR machines of some businesses and some surgeons. Some of the media articles and web sites almost seem to deify surgeons and it makes me angry to think that the public are being sold an impression that may not be accurate. The message to any prospective patient is ‘Do your homework’. It takes 2 clicks to check your cosmetic surgeon’s qualifications on the GMC website. If a surgeon is not listed on the Specialist Register, they have not received a full surgical training in the United Kingdom, end of story.”

The BAAPS have hit out in the past at aggressive marketing tactics such as BOGOFs, time-limited offers and non–refundable deposits which put pressure on patients to embark in haste on a course that they may regret.

According to Nigel Mercer;
“Those involved may say that the patient has been thinking about the procedure for some time, but it is mainly the consultation with the surgeon that gives the patient the information on which they make their decision. There should be no time pressure put on making that decision. In fact, the GMC states that the patient must have a 2 week cooling off period to think it over. Such offers are pure marketing, designed to attract market share and surely are immoral in any branch of medicine. We are not selling groceries! It should be made illegal to put offers like this in any marketing or on any web site (and web sites are still marketing), in the same way that it is illegal to advertise prescription medicines in the UK.”

The BAAPS also warns that there is no registerable qualification in cosmetic surgery anywhere in Europe or America, and have been campaigning for change.

Nigel Mercer adds;
“The so-called ‘Academies’, which are posted on websites, give the implied impression that they are Government approved bodies. They are not and there is no Government body that approves such organisations. The cosmetic surgery industry is a child of the 80s and 90s, and the Law has not just failed to keep pace with regulation and training, it has been left behind in the middle of the last century! In the UK, only a qualified vet can operate on an animal but, as the Law stands, your vet could do your facelift so long as you agree to it. This situation must stop in today’s world.”

In the absence of any British Law regulating who can do what, and where, the BAAPS has been calling for an official regulator (OffCos) to be set up, which would have ‘teeth’.

Nigel Mercer says;
“We have seen what a lack of regulation has done for Banks and for the British Parliament. There is a British Potato Council so why not an OffCos? Surgeons can do more harm than potatoes…!”

An example of the urgent need for enforceable regulation comes from the Independent Healthcare Advisory Service (IHAS) newsletter this month, which stated that podiatrists, radiographers, physiotherapists and even vets had enquired about offering cosmetic injectables such as Botox.


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:

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