Cosmetic surgeons call for surgery adverts ban

Ruptured PIP implant The PIP implants were made with low-grade silicone not meant for medical use

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Cosmetic surgery advertising should be banned and annual checks carried out on surgeons, the industry has said.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) wants measures including increased regulation of the "cowboy" market in the UK.

Prof Sir Bruce Keogh is leading a government review of the trade after the PIP breast implants scandal.

Sir Bruce has said an insurance scheme for the sector, similar to that in the travel industry, could be introduced.

'Marketing gimmicks'

The government is also considering the introduction of a breast implant registry to make a record of all cosmetic operations.

Baaps said cosmetic surgery as a medical procedure should not be advertised, in the same way that the promotion of prescription medicines is banned.

Start Quote

In no other area of surgery would one encounter Christmas vouchers and two-for-one offers”

End Quote Fazel Fatah President, British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons

Baaps president Fazel Fatah said: "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 patient.

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

"In 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 change.

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

'Patient welfare'

The Independent Healthcare Advisory Services represents the cosmetic surgery industry.

Its director Sally Taber told the BBC that "this type of advertising has increased to an inapproprate level".

However, she added: "We do not agree that there should be a total ban on cosmetic surgery advertising.

"Advertising should be honest and ethical, in everybody's interests so the patient is aware of what is available.

"We have worked hard with Baaps to ensure there isn't this incentivised advertising."

The faulty implants were made by the now-closed French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP) and filled with industrial rather than medical grade silicone.

Some 300,000 of the implants were sold around the world, mainly in Europe.

About 40,000 women in the UK received PIP implants, with 95% dealt with by private clinics.

The government has said implants given on the NHS can be removed and replaced free of charge, and removed but not replaced if it was done privately.

Private clinics have varied in their response to whether they will remove the implants for free.

NHS medical director Sir Bruce 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."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    "Laurie Knight
    If your garage fitted brakes from a reputable company which were authorised by the DVLA and then they turned out to be rubbish would you be complaining to the Garage or the DVLA?"

    The garage, clearly. The DVLA can only set standards and, at best, test samples. They cannot assure the manufacturing process or continuing quality. The garage, in law, is liable nonetheless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    What is needed, and odd it does not exist, is insurance backed guarantees on medical implants. Ensuring they are then independent of the manufacturer's existence. It is no good relying on a principle of sue the maker, when they can go out of business, it is a bad model. The same should be required of clinics for their part of the work if that is the fault in other cases.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    74. justdave As I posted earlier, approval was on the basis of tests carried out by a PRIVATE German company, on a sample supplied by the manufacturer for CE approval. Why not find out the facts before posting?

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    #16. Morlan01 -"Ban plastic surgery, never mind the adds "

    I am a plastic surgical SpR in the NHS and have operated on thousands of people with cancer, burns, congenital defects, and traumatic injuries. We are often called by other surgeons who have difficult wounds to deal with or patients who need fingers or limbs re-attaching. Who will treat these people if there is a ban on plastic surgery?

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    I expect many women took out a loan, or paid by credit card for these breast augmentation procedures and had these PIP implants?

    These women may have a case under the Consumer Credit Act. This means their lenders can take on those private companies who inserted a faulty product and refuse to remove and replace with a 'safer' one? Just a thought.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    maybe those who carried out the inspection and tests were sent a good batch with the correct silicone for the process or do they carry out regular random tests of products. I have not seen anyone from the dept that carried out the original tests actually comment on what the results were. If they were fine then it would show a deliberate illegal act by the company

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Is there a British union for unnecessary surgery - BUNS ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Private clinics should be made to pay. Why they appear to have no insurance to cover mistakes is odd. There is no rush to replace them they could call in people so many a month. Failing that if people had the cash to have them put in they can raise enough to have them taken out. Most would appear to have us pay so they can afford their holidays.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    No surprise that existing members want to make market entry for new entrants more difficult. That is standard behavour to maintain high prices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Why did the public sector staff approve these products? Lets start and make these highly paid public sector employees become responsible for their actions, like they would be in the private sector
    Oh, like the bankers were held accountable for the ponzi schemes and other scams they set up?

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    66.Rabid Right Wing Europhobe

    If your garage installed faulty brake pads in your car, passing it under the statutory MoT.snip.

    If your garage fitted brakes from a reputable company which were authorised by the DVLA and then they turned out to be rubbish would you be complaining to the Garage or the DVLA?

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    @74.justdave - because, like most of the Public Sector watchdogs, they're totally and utterly incompetent and not fit for purpose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    so the conpany that knew it manufactured illegal implants takes no responsibility, the clinics and surgeons take no responsibility but they all take the money. Do they double as bankers and stock brokers etc who also take no responsibilty. It would seem that accountability and responsibility stop when you earn over a certain amount of money

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    So they call their organisation "BAAPS"?... Aside from the irony, don't people realise this could end the careers of potential Katie Price wannabes

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Why did the public sector staff approve these products? Lets start and make these highly paid public sector employees become responsible for their actions, like they would be in the private sector. Its a toned down version of the FSA monitoring the banks, giving out licenses without proper monitoring. Heads should be rolling at all levels! Should save millions in salaries and benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Leaving aside Cosmetic Surgery (CS) for victims of burns etc that have to be dealt with for practical reasons, such as free movement of limbs, CS is a damming indictment on humanity.

    If society didn't place so much pressure on us to look a certain way or feel "worthless" even women who've had a mastectomy because of brest cancer wouldn't feel the need for surgical reconstruction.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Not all private clinics, advertising breast augmentation or other cosmetic procedures, employ surgeons who are experienced or even registered with BAAPS. Regulation is needed on that alone.

    Those private companies who are refusing to remove PIP implants and replace them will lose business in the long run, due to being long remembered for their stubborn intransigence on this issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    " Dan81
    They are expected to refund and treat former patients when the reality is they are not geared up to do this. They do not have the money or the resources"

    They should be "geared up" to do this. They happily took money from these patients and should carry insurance or some other means to fund correction of customer quality issues like any other private company with customers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    I signed all sorts of papers when I had treatment for cancer on the nhs because there were risks I did not do that to put a smile on my face if these operations were carried out in the private sector then unless it has already ruptured let the private sector remove them, if the implant was for genuine reasons(not cosmetic)we have a moral responsibility to act

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Why does it always take a scandal, or a death, to force through legislative or policy change? Why can't our law and policy makers simply get it right the first time? It doesn't take a genius to work out if something is safe or not.


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