Cosmetic surgery is still advertised as if it were just another product on the high street. Patients running the risks of medical procedures are treated as if they were just consumers. In fact this under-regulated industry can put patients at significant risk.
5 months ago Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of cosmetic surgery criticised how these procedures are advertised. Patients are often offered cut-price deals if they sign up by a certain date or encouraged to undergo unnecessary procedures. It is not unusual for a woman consulting some cosmetic surgeons for a breast reduction to sign up also to a nose-straightening, having been talked into the procedure in the consulting room. Others are offered surgery abroad as if it were a holiday package, only to find themselves suffering the complications of operations gone wrong, away from home, alone and with little or no after-care.
What has changed in 5 months? Very little according to new studies presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. 52% of the highest Google-ranked cosmetic surgeons still offer promotional deals – chauffeurs, free photo-shoots and holiday destinations. 37% were time-limited.
- People wanting cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance often struggle with poor self-image, an underlying problem surgery will not solve. They may be vulnerable and easily persuaded.
- Cosmetic surgery is a poorly regulated industry. Impressive advertising does not necessary make for a good surgeon. There are few areas of medicine where my colleagues have repeatedly recovered damages against the same doctor. Cosmetic surgery is an area where we see the same names coming up.
- These are often procedures which carry serious risks. In one case a woman ended up brain damaged and dependant on 24 hour care for life after poor management in surgery led to a stroke. But cosmetic surgery is often marketed as if it were just another product on the high street.
- Some surgeons operate or are based abroad and may not be insured. There are some rogues in the business. Trying to resolve problems when things go wrong can be extremely difficult.
- Procedures are being offered to the public which are not tried and tested. Surgery does not always achieve a patient’s goals.
To investigate and combat some of the problems of cosmetic surgery the National Institute of Aesthetic Research is being launched. As solicitors who deal with the damage caused by poor cosmetic surgery and see the impact on patients when things go wrong we welcome this as a step towards the end of abuses in an under-regulated industry.