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Get 'em off: ban cosmetic surgery ads in public places

Body Image Report Highlights Vulnerability of Young People

London – 30 May 2012 – According to today’s report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Body Image, half the UK public suffer from negative body image. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons ( ) agrees with the recommendation that a separate code of regulations be drawn up governing cosmetic surgery advertising and today calls for an outright ban on ads of this type in public places such as billboards and public transport. The BAAPS also announce today they are funding long-term research into psychological assessment of patients.

According to consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS President Fazel Fatah;

“The public enquiry found that the media and advertising combined account for more than 60% of the influence on body image in society, and that the ‘ideal’ image portrayed is simply not achievable by the vast majority of those exposed to it. We fully support the Group's recommendation for the establishment of a separate code for cosmetic surgery advertising. The unrestricted ads, which we see on television and on the side of buses are clearly having a negative impact on vulnerable people and particularly children, and should be severely restricted if not banned outright.”

The problem is so acute that girls as young as five now worry about their size and appearance and half of girls and one quarter of boys believe their peers have body image problems. Over the last decade, the BAAPS has highlighted examples of advertising and promotions that could prey on vulnerabilities, such as:

Travel vouchers as incentive for booking surgical ‘body overhauls’

Surgery offered as competition/raffle prizes by magazines, radio stations, nightclubs

‘Divorce Feel-Good’ packages combining breast augmentation and liposuction for women undergoing this difficult period

Cosmetic surgery gift/Christmas vouchers and loyalty cards

Surgical procedures sold via online discount coupons such as Groupon

The report also found that one in five cosmetic surgery patients could be suffering from ‘imagined ugly syndrome’ or Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). The recommendations call for mandatory screening of patients prior to undergoing cosmetic surgery and further research to assess the long-term impact on patients’ psychological wellbeing, which the BAAPS is undertaking currently.

According to Fazel Fatah;

“The recent NCEPOD report into cosmetic surgery found that routine psychological checks were carried out in less than 35% of sites. At the BAAPS we have held a number of scientific meetings on this theme over the years, and are currently funding research in collaboration with the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England into developing a reliable psychological assessment tool to be routinely used in every consultation to make sure that patients who may have BDD or other psychological disorders are identified and advised appropriately.”

The research is being conducted by psychologist and BAAPS member Professor Nichola Rumsey of the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England (Bristol) and clinical psychologist at the Royal Free Hospital Alex Clarke.


About the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
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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