Press release

Calls to curb cosmetic surgery sales techniques

People want to see tighter restrictions around the cosmetic surgery industry.

According to an interim report published today by the NHS Medical Director, Sir Bruce Keogh, people want to see tighter restrictions around the cosmetic surgery industry in a bid to protect patients from some of the more aggressive sales techniques.

The report contains results from the Call to Evidence launched in August to provide suggestions from the public, the cosmetic interventions industry and patient groups to protect patients who choose to have cosmetic procedures. These will feed in to the work of Sir Bruce’s review which will publish its recommendations in March.

 Suggestions that the majority of respondents wanted to see implemented include:

  • Banning free consultations for cosmetic surgery so that people don’t feel obliged to go through with surgical procedures.
  • Ensuring consultations are with a medical professional, not a sales adviser.
  • Imposing tighter restrictions on advertising including banning two for one, time limited deals and cosmetic surgery as competition prizes.
  • requiring a two stage written consent for surgery so people have time to reflect before making a decision.
  • Providing better information for patients including photos of expected bruising and scarring, and more detail on the risks associated with surgery.

 Vivienne Parry, review committee member, writer and broadcaster 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.”

 Dr Rosemary Leonard, review committee member said:

“It is wrong that the first consultation is with a sales person rather than a medical professional. Surgery - indeed any cosmetic intervention - is a serious step, and a patient must be told about the immediate side effects after surgery as well as any potential long term effects on their health.”

The review was set up by the Secretary of State for Health following the PiP breast implant scandal last year. It was set up to look at the following issues:

  • the regulation and safety of products used in cosmetic interventions;
  • how best to ensure that the people who carry out procedures have the necessary skills and qualifications;
  • how to ensure that organisations have the systems in place to look after their patients both during their treatment and afterwards;
  • how to ensure that people considering cosmetic surgery and procedures are given the information, advice and time for reflection to make an informed choice; and
  • what improvements are needed in dealing with complaints so they are listened to and acted upon.

Notes to Editors**

  1. The review was announced by Secretary of State for Health to Parliament in January 2012. The Call for Evidence was launched in August 2012 along with the list of Review Panel Members. The Call for Evidence closed on the 15th October after receiving 180 responses.
  2. The Review panel have been meeting on a monthly basis.
  3. The recommendations from the Review panel are due to be published at the end of March 2013

Review of the Regulations of Cosmetic Interventions.

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