Cosmetic Surgery Industry Raises Prospect Of Tough Ad Regulation

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The health scare triggered by the PIP breast implants scandal has prompted Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to request a comprehensive review of the cosmetic surgery industry. As a result,one of the outcomes could be tougher regulation of advertising for cosmetic surgery procedures as part of the overall drive to ensure the safety and protection of people undergoing such interventions. 

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director and leader of the expert panel, announced the launch of the review yesterday. In case you have missed the whole PIP scandal that has pushed Lansley into action, it involves breast implants produced by now-defunct French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP). Their products were found to be filled with industrial-grade silicone instead of the type intended for medical use and were estimated to be twice as likely to rupture compared to other brands.

In an interview for Sky News, Sir Bruce noted that while part of the industry operated in a responsible and ethical way, “some pretty grubby practices” were also in existence. He voiced concern over what he dubbed “pretty hard core advertising”, pointing to promotional activities such as “buy one, get one free”, “bring a friend” discounts and surgery procedures included in raffles.

The review has the wholehearted support of the British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), which early this year described the industry as an “under-regulated wild west” and insisted that cosmetic surgery advertising be banned outright. Following the launch of the review, BAAPS president Fazel Fatah said that the organisation was fervently hoping the panel would consider the advertising issue. If a blanket ban is seen as unfeasible, then a strict new code is required to ensure the protection of patients, Fatah said.