Nip 'n' tuck scare tactic: Patients 'should see photos of scarring to warn them of side effects'
09:41 GMT, 31 December 2012
Patients thinking of having cosmetic surgery should be shown photos of bruising and scarring to warn them of the side-effects, a report says.
They should also be given more time to decide whether to go ahead with an operation in the first place.
The consultation on the regulation of procedures from breast implants to Botox says the booming cosmetic surgery industry should be overhauled to protect the public from unscrupulous clinics.
No warning: Many patients who sign up for plastic surgery or Botox injections are not being informed about the risks
It found strong support for an end to ‘unethical’ sales techniques, including banning two-for-one deals, time-limited offers and cosmetic surgery as competition prizes.
The ideas, from plastic surgeons, members of the public and charities, will feed into a Government review of the industry triggered by the PIP breast implant scandal.
Up to 47,000 British women, most of them private patients, were fitted with cut-price implants which were fraudulently filled with an industrial-grade silicone meant for mattresses. Testing showed them to be up to six times as likely to rupture as other brands. Many women struggled to find out what sort of implant they had, far less get them removed or their money refunded.
There are also concerns about inexperienced beauty parlour workers giving Botox jabs and ‘fillers’ which are used to plump up the skin, smooth wrinkles and create fuller lips and cheeks.
Botox needs to be prescribed by a doctor but it can be injected by anyone who has done a half-day training course in which they typically watch a demonstration and take a friend along to practise on.
Botched procedure: Up to 47,000 British women were fitted with cut-price PIP implants, filled with an industrial-grade silicone meant for mattresses (file photo)
More than 180 individuals and groups submitted their views to the consultation, which will help shape the new regulations.
Most said initial consultations should be with someone with medical training, rather than a salesman. They also want free consultations to be banned and potential patients given more time to reflect on their decision.
There were also concerns about lasers being used by ‘unscrupulous and or ill-trained providers’.
Double-lift: The report recommends and end to 'two-for-one' surgery deals
Writer and broadcaster Vivienne Parry, who is a member of the review committee, said: ‘Aggressive marketing techniques are often used to maximise profit. This may be the right approach for selling double glazing but not for people having or considering whether to have surgery.
‘Everyone who decides to have cosmetic surgery should have time to think about the risks. Time-limited deals and offers on voucher websites pressure people to make snap decisions.’
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said any initial consultation must be carried out by the surgeon who will do the operation.
BAAPS president Rajiv Grover said: ‘We have made the comparison between cosmetic surgery being sold as a commodity, much as a washing machine or off-the-shelf beauty products, many times.
'Medical procedures simply cannot continue to be promoted in this manner and although it is tragic that it has taken a crisis of the magnitude of PIP to make the world sit up and take notice, it seems we’re finally making headway towards a safer environment for patients.’
NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, who is in charge of the review, said: ‘People undergoing cosmetic surgery interventions are not only consumers but also patients. They are taking decisions about medical procedures that can have a profound impact on their health and wellbeing.
‘The supply and demand for procedures in this fast-growing sector has outgrown the existing legislation around the products used, the people providing treatments and the information and advice available to the public.’
The Department of Health, which is not obliged to follow the suggestions, will publish its recommendations in March.