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29-01-2012 | Surgery | Article

Ban on cosmetic surgery advertising, tighter regulations called for by BAAPS


BAAPS six-point plan

MedWire News: The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has called for a ban on all advertising of cosmetic surgery and mandatory checks on all plastic surgeons in a bid to promote patient safety and improve the regulation of the cosmetic industry.

The move comes following recent concerns over breast implants made from nonmedical grade silicone by French company Poly Implant Prosthèse (PIP) being implanted in 40,000 women in the UK.

"Despite the unfortunate scandal which has brought this issue onto the agenda, it is an absolute joy for us at the BAAPS to hear that this year, the Government will be examining the lax regulations in our sector," said consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS President Fazel Fatah.

"We would like to offer the Commons select committee a simple six-point plan that will not only aid their investigations but offer a straightforward solution moving forward that will help safeguard the public."

The BAAPS proposes banning of all cosmetic surgery advertising, much in the same way that makers of prescription medicines are not allowed to advertise directly to the public. All plastic surgeons would also be required to submit to mandatory checks as part of their revalidation to continue practicing.

In addition, the association proposes the re-establishment of an implant register and the re-classification of dermal fillers as medicines. Compulsory registration of practitioners in aesthetic medicine and lasers is also proposed.

Fatah said: "Over the last decade the BAAPS has worked tirelessly to educate the public on the many aggressive marketing gimmicks that not only trivialize surgery but endanger the patient."

However, the call for a complete ban on all advertising was not supported by the Independent Healthcare Advisory Services (IHAS), which represents most of the private healthcare providers that gave women the PIP implants.

"We do not support an outright ban, but we do support a ban on the inappropriate advertising that has been identified, like when some companies are incentivising vulnerable patients to get a cheaper deal [on cosmetic surgery]," IHAS director Sally Taber told the BMJ.

"We want to ban any prizes, and we have heard of one organization that has been putting on a party and offering £4000 [€4800; $6200] worth of cosmetic surgery as a prize. That is totally inappropriate," added Taber.

Insurance for hospitals and clinics that did private work was also called for by Ilora Finlay, Professor of Palliative Medicine at Cardiff University, who wrote in The Times: "The Health and Social Care Bill transforms the NHS from healthcare delivered by public bodies to a much more discretionary, market-based system of autonomous providers. Here lies a clear risk to patients.

"These private providers will negotiate carefully crafted contracts designed to manage the risk to themselves. Such providers must have a duty in law to be adequately insured so patients harmed by them have redress."

By Ingrid Grasmo

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