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Please Stow Your Sepsis in the Overhead Compartment – Surgery Tourism one of Main Culprits


  • Lack of regulation leading to ‘cowboy’ proliferation
  • Criteria for patient selection ignored by untrained practitioners
  • UK patients seduced by cheap offers abroad, leaving NHS to pick up the tab when something goes wrong
  • Experts outline complex training involved in plastic surgery career at international scientific conference, 5th and 6th October at Kensington Olympia


London – 5 October, 2017 - The British Association of Plastic Surgeons; the UK’s only society based at the Royal College of Surgeons dedicated solely for the education and advancement of cosmetic surgery, and which represents the vast majority of NHS-trained plastic surgeons (; today unveils worrying new data. An internal survey of their membership has revealed a whopping 80% of them have recently experienced an exponential rise in requests for ‘revisional’ – fixing botched procedures – work.


The announcement is being made today at the BAAPS’ Annual Scientific Meeting, taking place at London’s Kensington Olympia, with luminaries from the profession hailing from all across the globe coming together to share knowledge, expertise and best practice.


A poll of BAAPS members (of which there are circa 230) reveals eight out of ten have witnessed an alarming increase in requests from patients to correct failed cosmetic procedures during the last five years - with some members counting as much as a third of their own practice just fixing other people’s mistakes. Others avoid taking up these cases and decline treating them, as the problems are often unsolvable.


Surgeons identified the reasons for the revisions as falling into three main culprits, with two out of five (40%) citing patients being incorrectly selected for the initial surgery (they had been medically or psychologically unsuitable for a particular procedure, yet it was performed nevertheless); nearly a third (30%) stating the original procedure had been clearly carried out by someone with dangerously inadequate training, and a similar proportion (30%) stuck picking up the pieces from cheap deals abroad.


According to consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS President Simon Withey, whose own practice sees a huge proportion – as much as 40% last year – of revisional work;

“Patient selection is one of the most key issues to consider when considering who is appropriate for a procedure. I have seen many people who were clearly not appropriate for surgery – ranging from unrealistic expectations, to the more extreme body dysmorphia; contraindicated medications, smokers, pre-existing medical conditions which should have ruled them out. And yet, unscrupulous practitioners have endangered their health entirely for profit.

“There is currently – perhaps unsurprisingly, in these turbulent times – a measure of financial uncertainty in the UK. Thus, affordability is one of the biggest drivers in the rise of ‘cosmetic medical tourism’ deals offering all–inclusive package holidays and the promise a high quality service at heavily discounted rates. However, these promotions conveniently gloss over the increased risk of complications post-surgery due to travel, less robust regulations and credentialing, as well as a lack of consistent follow up.

“This has directly led to an increase in the number of reported cases of people returning to the UK with serious complications after receiving cosmetic surgery abroad. Consequently, many patients are being treated in the NHS for complications – one study presented at today’s conference in one hospital alone pinpoints the average cost of each patient at a staggering £13,500 each, on average – a total of over £282,000 just for twenty-one patients!” 

Consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS Council member Mary O’Brien; who oversees the training committee at the Association; says:

“At the British Association of Plastic Surgeons we are all about ‘putting patients first’ through supporting young surgeons in not only technical training but also in ensuring a sound ethical approach to cosmetic surgery. Also, supporting experienced surgeons in their continuing medical education and sharing of knowledge and new techniques.

“We approach this in several ways – an annual international scientific meeting such as the one occurring today, national training days, specifically designed fellowships, close engagement with other entities and societies and close monitoring of work through a mandatory audit of members’ work.

“Training properly to become a plastic surgeon takes many years – a minimum of about sixteen! They must become educated and exposed to the importance of patient selection, be focused and above all safe – aside from just technical skills. At events such as today, we share knowledge, expertise and best practice on an international level.”

Consultant plastic surgeon and President-Elect Paul Harris concludes;

“Cosmetic surgery has seen a major change in the way providers communicate with prospective patients, much of this is now internet based and not regulated – indeed, many studies presented and discussed at our Meeting today have highlighted the unethical ways cosmetic surgery is marketed, including via social media. Interestingly; by analysing search engine data; another study showed that the UK has more interest in aesthetic treatments than even our counterparts in the US. The British population’s interest in procedures such as non-surgicals and liposuction wildly outweighs America’s.

“This stresses even more the importance of events such as our Annual Meeting, a shared platform seeing professionals from all over the world presenting on the latest advances and techniques with an ethical approach towards patient safety.”


The British Association of Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) is the only association able to provide actual numbers and not estimates on figures pertaining to plastic surgery in the UK. All of the annual audits from the last decade can be viewed here

BAAPS Annual Scientific Meeting will run from 5th - 6th October, London Olympia, Hammersmith Rd, London W14 8UX. Discussion topics include:

  • YOU’RE SO VEIN, YOU PROBABLY THINK THE RISK IS FOR NOWT, DUDE – DVT is a potentially life-threatening condition that can be induced by surgery. Surgeons are calling for more guidelines because there are none right now.  
  • PLEASE STOW YOUR SEPSIS IN THE OVERHEAD COMPARTMENT – How much is the rapidly-growing (and totally dangerous) cosmetic surgery tourism industry really costing the NHS? We have actual numbers. 
  • Why Cosmetic Surgery is King in The North – Not only is the U.K. showing more interest in cosmetic surgery than the U.S. - the regional breakdown will raise a Scouse brow.
  • COSMETIC SURGERY + SOCIAL MEDIA = MELTDOWN – What drivers are increasing patient dissatisfaction with aesthetic treatment? Let’s discuss. *avoids eye contact with smartphone* 
  • DANGER NOSE – Why unregulated, non-surgical rhinoplasty has leading surgeons’ shaking their heads, and patients losing bits of theirs. 
  • YOUTUBE BOOB – How much online cosmetic surgery edjumacation is too much not enough edjumacation?
  • FUTURE BOOBS – Why the new breast reduction? Because better. 
  • XENNIAL NIGHTMARES  -  current UK training means surgical trainees wishing to become certified in cosmetic surgery of the head and neck region need more practice. Are we facing our aesthetic future with confidence or will lipo in 2049 just suck?  QUICK - someone alert the Xennials - WE NEED TO SAVE YOUR FUTURE FACE!
  • ACCORDION FACE – No, we’re not even saying another word - just know it exists, and that you want it (for your media outlet, not on your actual face, obviously).
  • DORSAL HUMP: THE BEAKBONE OF RHINOPLASTY – How much of a surgical rhinoplasty is planning, and how much is dealing with dorsal?
  • SCAR WARS: A NEW HOPE – Pew Pew! Improved wound healing! Yes, it’s about lasers and breasts and scars. Hollywood has developed billion-dollar franchises on less – snatch this story TODAY! 
  • ‘And the Academy Award for Best Male Nipple Goes To….’ Need we say more?
  • Les Ballons D’Oro: UK vs SPAIN  


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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