Health groups warn over cosmetic surgery 'lotteries'

27/06/11

Health groups in the UK are calling for a ban on cosmetic surgery prize draws.

The Independent Healthcare Advisory Services (IHAS) and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) have criticised procedures like boob jobs, face lifts and botox being offered through competitions.

They claim cosmetic surgery promotions are becoming more popular, especially over the last three months.

As well as prize draws, they say loyalty card schemes, divorcee packages, magazine competitions and online deals are also big concerns.

Some health experts believe advertising surgery in this way is encouraging young people to get treatments they don't want or need.

'Real life Barbie'

Their concerns come days after My Big Fat Plastic Surgery Prize Draw, the first of a series of monthly events across the UK.

Tickets cost £25, with free entry into a lottery to win £4,000 worth of surgery of your choice.

The event was hosted in a nightclub in London and sponsored by a cosmetic surgery group. Runner-up prizes included fillers and semi-permanent make-up.

Cosmetic surgery should not be offered as a commodity prize. This is not something that can be trivialised
Jackie Lewis
Breast surgery specialist

Sarah Burge is 50 and said she's known as the UK's real life Barbie.

She was one of the organisers of the London draw and insisted events like this are not dangerous.

"We've started these prize draws following years of research," she said. "We know there are tens of thousands of people who want to change the way they look.

"It's not about having a big nose or wanting a boob job.

"This is about people who are living with facial disfigurements, mastectomy patients and those with other deformities who want their dignity back."

But Sally Taber, from IHAS, has hit out at these kinds of prize draws.

'Life-long consequences'

She said: "They're enticing people to have cosmetic surgery who may not have even thought about it.

"It's important people make an informed decision in the right environment. A party area is not the right environment.

"They should be stopped from advertising in this way."

Beryl Atkins of Transpire Cosmetic Surgery, the group behind the London event, say they "never operate on anyone straight away".

She added: "The winners have at least two weeks to think about it and we carry out thorough consultations."

Jackie Lewis from Baaps specialises in breast surgery and criticised the draws.

"Cosmetic surgery should not be offered as a commodity prize," she said. "This is not something that can be trivialised.

"If you're going to subject yourself to a procedure which is irreversible with lifelong consequences, we recommend you think about it carefully first."

The Government says you are free to choose where you have cosmetic surgery and the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) insist all adverts must be socially responsible and not misleading.