This site uses cookies to bring you the best experience. Find out more
Skip to main content

Mary had a little lipo? Protect children from surgery ads

Surgeons submit strict new advertising code banning ads to under-18s

London – 20 September, 2012 – The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (www.baaps.org.uk ) today announce during their Annual Scientific Meeting that they have drafted and submitted a new, strict advertising code to regulator CAP (the Committee of Advertising Practice), which sets out policies for the Advertising Standards Authority. Although continuing to call for an outright ban on cosmetic surgery advertising in all its forms, the BAAPS says that implementing the twelve measures they have outlined is the "bare minimum" that should be considered acceptable to help protect the public –particularly the young - from unethical practices and unhealthy psychological repercussions.

Earlier this year, a report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Body Image revealed that half the UK public suffer from negative body image, and girls as young as five now worry about their size and appearance. The BAAPS singles out the growing trend of youthful celebrities and Photoshopped models promoting cosmetic procedures, as well as ads on billboards, buses, TV and social media as contributing to the problem.

According to consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS President Fazel Fatah;

"For a long time the BAAPS has expressed concern over susceptible patients being at risk through the unrestricted proliferation of cosmetic surgery advertising. It is clear that some providers take advantage of the vulnerability of people who seek surgical treatments for psychological reasons. Cosmetic surgery is often portrayed as a commodity raising unrealistic expectations rather than as a medical treatment that can have life long effect, which is why we have been campaigning for an all-out ban on this type of advertising. However, in support of the recommendation by the All Party Parliamentary Group that a separate code of advertising be drawn up for cosmetic surgery, we have submitted for consideration a set of twelve measures which we consider to be the bare minimum that should be implemented to protect vulnerable patients."

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

"The government's review into the sector is underway so this is an ideal time to take action. Posters in the Underground and on the sides of buses, billboards, TV and social media ads promoting cosmetic surgery have become ubiquitous, with no consideration for the psychological repercussions on the children and teens exposed to them. This is compounded by the glamorizing of young celebrities who appeal to this vulnerable age group, making it seem like undergoing aesthetic procedures - whether surgical or non-surgical - is aspirational and easy."

One academy which boasts on their website "No medical or beauty qualifications required!" trains reality TV stars in their 20s and boy band members to inject dermal fillers into the face. The list of restrictions demanded by the BAAPS also includes prohibiting financial inducements, time-limited offers, BOGOFs and the use of unrealistic imagery such as Photoshopped models. A number of these measures are also currently being reviewed for implementation as standards at EU level.

According to consultant plastic surgeon and former BAAPS President Nigel Mercer, who was involved in drafting the EU standards;

"Banking regulators have recently banned product incentives, entirely because they can lead to mis-selling by staff hungry for commissions. Yet the practice of promoting sales of serious medical procedures by providing hard-to-resist financial inducements has been allowed to grow unrestrained. Although new EU standards will provide an ethical framework for the marketing of cosmetic surgery in general we see these specific advertising restrictions as urgent and necessary."

After a meeting with the General Medical Council to highlight their concerns, the BAAPS drafted the following restrictions and submitted them to CAP:

1. Prohibit all advertising aimed at the under 18s for example the use of young spokespeople such as celebrities that appeal to this age group
2. Prohibit advertising in public places where children can see these ads, such as posters, billboards, sides of buses and television
3. Prohibit all forms of discounted offers and financial inducements to encourage people having cosmetic surgery including seasonal incentives such as 'New Year, new body!', 'Summer body' surgical makeovers', Christmas gift vouchers for surgery
4. Prohibit time limited offers e.g., 'book by Friday!'
5. Prohibit targeting vulnerable specific groups such as divorced people, brides to be, women after pregnancy e.g.,'Divorce feel-good' and 'Mummy makeovers' discount packages
6. Ban the principle of loyalty cards as inducement to have multiple or repeat procedures
7. Prohibit advertising for combined procedures as inducement such as two-for-ones and BOGOFs
8. Prohibit recruitment of patients for cosmetic surgery by agent, either in the UK or abroad, whether through publications or websites
9. Prohibit the use of pictures of models or 'real life' patients that raise unrealistic expectations from cosmetic surgery such as through the use of Photoshop
10. Prohibit advertising of money-off and discount vouchers such as Groupon as inducement for booking for surgery
11. Prohibit giving cosmetic surgery as prize in any shape or form
12. Prohibit encouragement of refer-a-friend schemes in return for discount on surgery

BAAPS President Fazel Fatah concludes;

"We strongly believe that in the absence of a complete ban, the above measures in their entirety are necessary to ensure that patients are protected from unethical practices and help protect the young and vulnerable from an unhealthy body image. To this end, the BAAPS has also recently awarded funds for research into standardizing psychological assessment of all aesthetic plastic surgery patients."

The BAAPS Annual Scientific Meeting is taking place this year at the Royal College of Physicians in London from 19-21 September and includes 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 a new facial surgery assessment tool, the results of standardized psychological screening questionnaires, the evolution of the facelift and the longevity of its effects, advances in procedures such as eyelid surgery, cheek and arm lifts, breast augmentation and reduction; ethnic and post-obesity surgery. A study presented at the conference also revealed that cosmetic surgery procedures have increased by nearly 300% in the last decade and that, unlike in the US where the market has matured and 'plateau'd', in Britain demand is closely linked with economic factors such as interest rates.

Ends

About the BAAPS

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (www.baaps.org.uk ), 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, and further materials can be posted to members of the public seeking specialised information. Join us on Twitter: @BAAPSMedia  (#BAAPS12) or Facebook: www.facebook.com/BritishAssociationofAestheticPlasticSurgeons For all media enquiries, contact Tingy Simoes 020 7549 2863/ tsimoes@wavelengthgroup.com

View other press releases