Cut out the cowboys: Now even plastic surgeons call for total ban on cosmetic op adverts

BAAPS say cosmetic surgery advertising should be banned just like prescription medicines

‘Aggressive marketing’: BAAPS says cosmetic surgery advertising should be banned just like prescription medicines
Experts call for compulsory register of all cliniciansSurgeons would undergo an annual auditReclassify fillers like Botox as medicines

All advertising for cosmetic surgery should be banned and annual checks carried out on surgeons, experts said today.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) said there is a ‘cowboy’ cosmetic treatment market in the UK and wants a six-point plan to tighten up regulation.

Government advisers are considering a range of measures for the sector following the PIP breast implant scandal, which has affected around 40,000 British women.


Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, who is leading a Government review, said on Friday that an insurance scheme for cosmetic surgery patients – similar to that in the travel industry – could be introduced.

Companies pay a subscription to become members of the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), which provides a fund for people to fall back on if something goes wrong.

A breast implant registry to record details of all operations is also under consideration by the Government.

However, BAAPS is calling on ministers to go further, saying cosmetic surgery as a medical procedure should not be advertised, similar to the ban that exists on promoting prescription medicines.

The association has long campaigned against what it regards as ‘marketing gimmicks’ by cosmetic surgery firms, such as competitions to win breast implants and reality makeover shows.

BAAPS also wants:

A register of all types of silicone implants including those for the breast, buttock, pectoral muscle and calfDermal fillers, such as Botox, to be reclassified as medicines, which are subject to more stringent rulesA compulsory register of all practitioners rather than the present voluntary one for clinics, and all should undergo an annual audit as a membership requirement. This would be regarded as essential to allow clinicians to carry on practising

BAAPS also wants a revalidation exercise around products with a CE (certificate of European conformity) mark. The PIP implants at the centre of the recent scandal had a CE mark but were filled with non-medical grade silicone intended for mattresses.

BAAPS president Fazel Fatah said that
despite the scandal, ‘it is an absolute joy for us at the BAAPS to hear
that this year, the Government will be examining the lax regulations in
our sector’.


1: Ban all advertising of cosmetic surgery
2: Re-establish an implant register
3: Re-classify dermal fillers as medicines
4: Compulsory registration of practitioners in aesthetic medicine and lasers
5: Mandatory safety audit
6: Revalidation and mystery shopping in CE marking

He added: ‘Over the last decade the
BAAPS has worked tirelessly to educate the public on the many aggressive
marketing gimmicks that not only trivialise surgery but endanger the

‘We have
warned against the unrealistic expectations set by reality “makeover”
shows and against crass competition prizes promising “mummy makeovers”
and body overhauls.

no other area of surgery would one encounter Christmas vouchers and
two-for-one offers – the pendulum has swung too far, and it is time for

‘Thus we are delighted with the upcoming inquiry and put forward
our realistic and achievable proposals for consideration by the

of women across the globe received implants manufactured by the
now-closed French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP).

Concerns about the safety of the implants were raised when French surgeons noticed they were rupturing
more easily than other brands.

The failure rate there has been cited
as between 5 and 10 per cent and tests show the implants to be filled with
industrial-grade silicone contaminated with fuel additives and window

The manufacturer said it believed the gel was going to be used in mattresses.

In the UK, the Government said there is no clear evidence that the PIP implants cause harm. However it said
anxious patients who had their surgery on the NHS will be able to have
the implants removed and replaced free of charge.

The NHS will also pay to remove, but not replace, implants if a private clinic refuses to or no longer exists.

An advert by the Harley Medical Group. Experts want all such advertising to be banned

An advert from the Harley Medical Group: Experts want all such advertising to be banned

After care Women protest against the Harley Medical Group, after it said it will not replace the faulty pip implants free of charge

After care Women protest against the Harley Medical Group, after it said it will not replace the faulty PIP implants free of charge

The Harley Medical Group, which fitted PIP breast implants to almost 14,000 British women, has said it will not replace them free of charge.
Another private company, Transform, has also said it will not replace them.

Surgicare has said it will remove PIP implants for free but any women wanting replacement implants will have to pay 2,500.

Other providers including BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health and Spire have agreed to offer free removal.

Prof Keogh, medical director of the NHS, said: ‘I am working with experts from the plastic surgery field to look at what we can do to make sure people who choose to have cosmetic surgery and other cosmetic procedures are safe.

‘I will be looking at all aspects of regulation – at the regulation of implants and fillers, at whether the people who carry out cosmetic interventions have the right skills, at whether the clinics look after the care and welfare of their patients.

‘There is already considerable support for a comprehensive register of all surgical devices – from breast implants to heart valves to replacement joints.

‘We will be looking critically at the value and feasibility of such a register and at how best to put this into action.’