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Cutting prices means cutting corners, warn surgeons

Plastic Surgeons Unveil Alarming New Statistics at Annual Scientific Meeting

Birmingham – 29 September, 2011 – This year has seen some of the most extreme marketing tactics to date in cosmetic surgery, including breast ops raffled at a nightclub, unproven procedures promoted as innocuous non-surgical treatments on morning chat shows and discount coupons for nose jobs listed alongside offers for cat food and falconry lessons. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons ( today, during their Annual Scientific Meeting, issues a stark warning about the way serious surgical procedures are sold and singles out specific practices endangering the public.

Among the presentations taking place at the conference is a study* which compares the way UK cosmetic surgery clinics market to the public v. their American counterparts. It revealed that clinics in Britain are more than twice as likely (26% v. 12%) than those in the US to offer financial incentives such as prize draws, BOGOFs, multi-procedure discounts and ‘rewards’ for booking surgery such as studio photos shoots.

According to consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS President Fazel Fatah;

“It has become common to bundle together the practice of aesthetic plastic surgery such as facelifts and breast augmentation alongside beauty treatments such as facials, lasers and injectable fillers under the term ‘cosmetic industry’. This blurring of lines has encouraged blatantly unethical marketing tactics which trivialise serious surgery - driven by greed and with very little concern for the public’s safety. Among these are online discount deals for surgery, which violate an established code of ethics where time-linked incentives are expressly prohibited. Another is an absurd ‘work from home’ scheme giving people with no relevant experience the chance to be a so-called cosmetic surgery ‘advisor’ and earn a percentage of procedures booked. Paying for referrals in this way goes against the General Medical Council’s rules regarding conflicts of interest.”

The website offers ‘great earning potential’ to work from home and achieve ‘financial success’ advising patients on their ‘wishes for a surgical episode’. It clarifies no experience is necessary.

According to consultant plastic surgeon and former BAAPS President Nigel Mercer;

“Let’s be clear: surgery cannot be an industry where profit trumps safety. As surgeons, we are legally and ethically bound to put the safety of the patient and what is right for them above considerations of profit. An aromatherapy massage, a hot air balloon ride and a nose job may all sound like a fun day out to some – but these promotions, generally couched in the language and hyperbole of sales and marketing, must not be sold with discount coupons as if they were white goods.”

More alarmingly still, the study – which evaluated the top 50 websites offering surgery in London v. New York – also revealed that whilst nearly all (94%) of websites in the US listed the surgeons’ accreditation, for example Board certification, only 64% of UK sites did so. This left well over a third (36%) of providers whose practitioners didn’t include qualifications, were not on the specialist register or even listed on the GMC at all, i.e., not licensed to practice medicine in this country.

According to consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS President-Elect Rajiv Grover;

“The single most important factor in determining the outcome of surgery is the choice of surgeon. This is crucial not only to secure a safe and effective operation but sometimes to suggest when surgery is not appropriate for a patient. Researching the qualifications of the surgeon is essential and something which is accepted practice in the United States. Sadly, it is becoming increasingly apparent that in the United Kingdom the average patient spends longer choosing their bathroom tiles than choosing their surgeon.”

Fazel says;

“There is a noticeable rise in non-specialists trying to cash in on what they see as the ‘cosmetic industry’. We have seen non-surgically trained GPs and various other specialists other than plastic surgeons offering procedures such as breast surgery. That a popular morning chat show could present, entirely unchallenged, a stem cell breast augmentation procedure performed by a GP as if it was the latest in ‘non-surgical cosmetic treatment’ could put the millions of women who watched it in danger.”

The segment, part of a series on ITV This Morning which aired in the summer, prompted the BAAPS, alongside other professional organisations the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) and the Association of Breast Surgery (ABS) to put in a complaint to OFCOM.

The three-day Annual Scientific Meeting also includes workshops on psychological assessment for cosmetic surgery patients, with a new and simple questionnaire for surgeons which will raise ‘alarm bells’ in those who should be referred for counselling.

Fazel concludes;

“Contrary to popular belief, cosmetic surgery patients are not a group of vain individuals, they are a group of vulnerable people who require handling with sensitivity and impartial advice – rather than being seen as a market to exploit.”

The conference will include presentations by surgeons to their peers on a vast number of subjects including new techniques and the latest advances in aesthetic plastic surgery. Some of these include

Facelifts to correct deformity: reconstructive techniques have always influenced the aesthetic world - but is it the other way round now?

No more ‘startled look’: the new eyebrow is defined - and it’s not upwards

From fat to phwoar: ‘Masculinising’ the male chest to mimic bulk in the right places after massive weight loss

Banking beauty? Storing stem cells for future cosmetic treatment

The end of the ‘pillow face’: under-grafting fat and face lipo

Not everyone wants a Caucasian nose: rhinoplasty that preserves ethnicity and parameters for African, Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean noses

Eyebrow transplants: for overplucking or skin conditions

Earlobe reshaping: they keep growing as we age…

New treatment for cellulite

‘Lunchtime’ boob jobs under local anaesthetic

Stem cell breast augmentation: words of caution

Laser lipo and the “bridesmaid’s bulge”- for those hard to reach areas

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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