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 168.

    Banning will do no more than make it go underground, if more control is to be placed with safety, and trust, they industry need to take more control of there quality assurance. Instead of expecting the state to protect them when they have done wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Patients should have to be referred by their doctor!

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    There is a profound difference between individual rights that man is endowed with by his nature, and the "privileges" that government has "permitted" you within the declaration of human rights."

    This is rather off topic. Humans have rights solely because we collectively agree they have rights and enforce them. Nature's unenforceable endowment has nothing to do with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    #160 I agree with totally about EU standards. 100% correct. However as the EU standard supersedes any similar UK legislation the UK govt are even less responsible than Brussels. My Honda had a recall for a dogy headlight switch... that was nothing to do with the UK govt either. Problem here is that the makers PPI are out of business so beyond the law effectively.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    How can they approve a product but when there is a problem they accept no liability"

    The government isn't the one profiting from the product. It merely defines minimum standards and (possibly) tests a few samples. If the makers subsequently deviate from that standard then they are responsible, not the regulator.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    When 49% of services are provided privately, then even more operations will be performed and more failures will be passed on to the public purse. This episode should be a killer blow to the Govs NHS plans.
    Ads can persuade people to do anything. Even ads disguised in 'lifestyle ' items. Ads have messed up comp claims as well. There must be a limit to protect people and society from greed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    @143 Total Mass Retain

    There is a profound difference between individual rights that man is endowed with by his nature, and the "privileges" that government has "permitted" you within the declaration of human rights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    101. L A Odicean
    Some women have their breasts made bigger because many men prefer huge breasts"

    Yes, no doubt some men do think of big boobs more than anything else like personality etc. But, I'd say that if women didn't attract that type of men, then that'd be a big bonus for those women!

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    But you need to focus your ire on Brussels and the EU directives"

    Why? All the EU does is ensure a common (high) standard that manufacturers that conform to can then market their goods in all EU states rather than conforming to 27 slightly different standards. If a toy with the CE label on it harms a child, is the EU responsible or the toy manufacturer (and retailer)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    Am i correct in thinking you have insurance for your business i did when a publican if my food poisened someone i would have passed it to my insurers not the government who pass laws regarding food products from production to consumption after all i profited from my sales i was also checked by the authorities are you

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Yo, pebbles. I think you have an incorrect perception of how medical devices are approved for marketing. It's really easy to blame the UK government, I know. But you need to focus your ire on Brussels and the EU directives. Even then what's to say the manufacturer didn't falsify clinical test reports and the like?

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    I am in business (different profession). If I buy a product for a customer which is certified as safe for my customer but they complain of health problems because of the product why should my business which I have put allot of time and effort into suffer because the government didn’t test the product properly. How can they approve a product but when there is a problem they accept no liability.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    #155 you're slightly taking my brake pad comment out of context. However the point is that these implants generally HAVEN'T failed. The burst rate is no worse than any other implant (which the clinics aren't obliged to replace for free as the risks are clearly stated). Industrial sillicon doesn't sound good to me but the health risks from it are completely unknown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Yes Peter. But if brake pad A fails, the garage is still legally bound to replace them. The government don't, and nor should they. In this case the clinics concerned should replace the products they inserted, just as a garage would have to. If that means they and their shareholders lose profit then hey, that's capitalism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    The EU directives on medical devices are meant to protect a public who have their perceptions of themselves skewed from birth.

    Banning the advertisements doesn't solve the problem; the problem starts with body image and its portrayal in all forms of media.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    The problem with mandatory insurance is that it will be impossible to enforce in overseas clinics. The result is likely to be that more women opt to have surgery in eastern Europe and other medical tourism centres. Rather than try to insist on insurance, just tell those wanting private plastic surgery that if it goes wrong they're only entitled to A&E patch-up services if it goes wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    We can’t change what has happened all we can do is move on and learn. The NHS shouldn’t suffer because of this. The government and the cosmetic companies should pull together for the safety of many women.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    The government authorised the use of these implants as safe to use so shouldn't they take the blame."

    The government authorises Ford, Toyota, BMW etc to make and sell automobiles to drive on the roads. That does not mean the government is responsible for shoddy workmanship and manufacturing problems should these manufacturers deviate from the specifications they have agreed to meet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    #139. Who doesn't buy the cheapest around? If your garage gets the option of brake pad A at £50 or brake pad B at £100, both kit marked, both approved by the car maker believe me you're getting pad A in the car.

    The manufacturer (who is out of business so unable to give refunds) MAY have criminally duped the safety people but this has not been proven yet. They have been ripped off too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    My concern is the way so called professionals can set up a company with limited liablity, As has been mention compulsory insurance so these businessmen can't hide behind limited liability and let the tax payer foot the bill for their mistakes.


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