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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 March, 2005, 23:56 GMT
Plastic surgery 'is trivialised'
Chris Khoo
Mr Khoo believes plastic surgery is being trivialised
The obsession with cosmetic surgery is obscuring the real work plastic surgeons do treating cancer patients and burn victims, leading doctors say.

They said the demand for cosmetic surgery fuelled by the media's coverage of celebrities and TV programmes was having a negative effect.

The British Association of Plastic Surgeons even said some people saw them in a similar vein as hairdressers.

Instead, the surgeons said they were doctors who were there to heal people.

To stress their point, they gave examples at a London press briefing of people who had benefited from their work.

In one case, a club bouncer who had had his nose cut off in a sword attack was given a new nose through nasal reconstruction.


A man who developed tongue cancer had part of his tongue removed and rebuilt, hardly impairing his speech.

And two children, born with cleft palates, were almost indistinguishable from their peers by the age of two.

Association chairman Chris Khoo said: "One of the things that comes across in the TV programmes is that there is a quick fix for anything, but sometimes we have to say no to treatment and people don't understand.

"This obsession tends to trivialise what the speciality can do.

"Our members treat cancer patients, burn victims and babies with cleft palates.

No other area of medicine has to put up with such misconceptions
Brendan Eley, of the Healing Foundation

"They enable people to live full and active lives, but this does not always come across.

"We are not saying cosmetic surgery is not important, because it is and many of us do it, but just that we are getting things out of perspective."

Martin Kelly, a consultant plastic surgeon at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital who specialises in facial reconstruction, warned the obsession with cosmetic surgery meant that some unsuitable surgeons were carrying out work, leaving the NHS to pick up the tab for repairing the damage.


And he added: "We are primarily doctors and not just further along the spectrum from hairdressers.

"We are here to heal and help people."

Another of the effects of the obsession was that the benefits of stem cell research and tissue regeneration, which could lead to the avoidance of scarring, was also being missed.

Patrick Mallucci, a consultant plastic surgeon at London's Royal Free Hospital, said: "Great advances are being made. It is not going to happen this week or next week, it is something for the future.

"But all we hear is cosmetic surgery."

Brendan Eley, chief executive of the Healing Foundation, a charity for people with disfigurements, said: "I have a lot of sympathy for plastic surgeons.

"No other area of medicine has to put up with such misconceptions.

"They are unsung heroes whose work can transform the lives of their patients."

Plastic surgery 'saved my life'
16 Mar 05 |  Health
Cosmetic ops 'require research'
28 Jan 05 |  Health

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