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One in five 'unsuitable' for cosmetic surgery - patients dangerously misinformed by salespeople

We're handing the Government the scalpel, say surgeons: it's time to cut out bad practice

London – 18 March, 2013 – As the country gears up for the results of a Government enquiry into cosmetic surgery due out later this month, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons ( ) unveils today the results of an internal poll of its members, which highlights the importance of true ‘informed consent’ on the part of the patient. The survey reveals how dangerously misinformed people undergoing cosmetic surgery can be when their consultations are held with brokers, salespeople, ‘customer advisors’ or even other medical professionals, rather than with the surgeon who is performing the operation.

The poll reveals that BAAPS members – all of whom only perform consultations themselves, and abide by the two-week ‘cooling off’ period – regularly turn away a high proportion of their own patients. The commonest reasons given for this are the procedure desired being unsuitable or unnecessary (for example being too young for a facelift), unrealistic expectations – such as wanting to look like a specific celebrity or movie star – and medical reasons including smoking, obesity or a heart condition.

Practically all BAAPS surgeons (97%) have seen patients whose consultations elsewhere were held with customer advisors, brokers or salespeople and the information they were given had been inappropriate. The most common problems were risks not fully explained, procedure or technique recommended unsuitable, and advice on the surgical plan being incorrect.

According to consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS President Rajiv Grover;

It is not surprising that patients seem wildly misinformed when their consultation is performed by someone other than the surgeon responsible for the procedure. Customer advisors, brokers, salespeople, patient liaison or whatever fancy name is being used, have an agenda which is too often financially motivated. Our survey demonstrates that BAAPS members, all of whom perform consultations personally, in fact turn away a great number of patients from unnecessary surgery, due to coexisting medical conditions or psychological reasons that salespeople (even nurses who may be working on commission) are neither equipped to properly identify nor subsequently deal with.

At this seminal time in our sector, we call upon the Government to establish and enforce regulations that will prohibit consultations taking place with anyone other than the surgeon who will be operating. This will instantly reduce the problems stemming from ‘fly-in-fly-out’ practitioners who depend on local brokers, and also have an impact on patients undergoing surgery in the UK whose safety is being compromised by the unsuitable – and outright dangerous – advice of people just seeking to increase their sales commissions.”

Survey highlights

The entirety (100%) of the BAAPS membership only perform patient consultations themselves; all offer a 2nd consultation for free, and all abide by the minimum two-week ‘cooling-off’ period recommended by doctors’ regulatory body the General Medical Council

The vast majority - four out of five (79%) - of BAAPS surgeons’ initial patient consultations last between 30mins to an hour (some even more than an hour)

More than three out of five (63%) turn away between 10%-30% of their patients and well over a third (35%) turn away at least one in five (20%-30%)

The top three most common reasons given for turning patients away were, in order of popularity:

Procedure was unsuitable or unnecessary (e.g., too young for a facelift)

Unrealistic expectations for surgery (e.g., wanting to look like a particular celebrity or movie star)

Medical reasons such as being obese, a smoker, or having a heart condition

Practically all BAAPS surgeons (97%) had seen patients who had undergone a surgery consultation elsewhere with someone other than a surgeon (e.g., patient liaison, sales advisor, customer reps) and were misinformed about the surgery they wished to have

The top three most prevalent reasons for inappropriate advice were:

Surgical risks were not fully explained

Procedure/technique was unsuitable for the patient

Advice on surgical plan was incorrect

Rajiv Grover concludes;

“Essentially what our survey shows, is that at the very least one in five patients (on average) is unsuitable for surgery – but surgeons are trained and qualified to spot this and advise them appropriately. The accepted concept of Informed Consent is severely compromised when the patient doesn’t even meet their surgeon until the day of their operation. It’s little wonder that we constantly hear horror stories of bad outcomes and dissatisfied patients when many of them shouldn’t have undergone the procedure in the first place! The reality is that, in the right circumstances, aesthetic plastic surgery can have a positive impact on a person’s life. Under the wrong conditions – particularly in a sales-driven, ‘stack em high’ environment – the results can be no less than catastrophic. We’re handing the Government the scalpel: it’s time to cut out bad practice.”


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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