Page last updated at 06:27 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 07:27 UK

Cosmetic surgery ad 'clampdown'

Breast implant
Breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic procedure

Cosmetic surgery clinics have been criticised by industry leaders for using misleading sales techniques.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said they were "increasingly concerned" with some of the standards in advertising.

Use of models with "anatomically impossible" breasts and offers of "lunchtime facelifts" create unrealistic expectations they warned.

Advertising regulators said any move to promote good practice was welcome.

Delegates at the BAAPS annual conference were shown a range of adverts with dubious marketing practices, such as offering financial incentives to undergo surgery.

We are particularly worried about younger, vulnerable readers of magazines who are being targeted very heavily
Douglas McGeorge, BAAPS president

One offered a 250 discount to customers as an incentive to have the surgery quickly.

Another offered a "lunchtime facelift", which BAAPS surgeons said cannot be done and falsely raises expectations.

BAAPS represents around one third of cosmetic surgeons in the UK but is not a regulatory body and so has no powers to take action against clinics.

But the association is launching its own advertising campaign to promote better choices about where people should have surgery.

Serious decision

Douglas McGeorge, president of BAAPS and a consultant plastic surgeon, said: "Surgery is a serious undertaking which requires realistic expectations and should only proceed after proper consultation with a reputable and properly qualified clinician in an appropriate clinical setting."

He added: "It is very difficult to regulate these adverts.

"We are particularly worried about younger, vulnerable readers of magazines who are being targeted very heavily."

Many clinics have signed up to the Independent Healthcare Authority's code of practice, which states marketing materials should be designed to safeguard patients from unrealistic expectations and should use real life models.

However this is voluntary.

Adam Searle, a former president of the organisation, said: "Plastic surgery, when used well, is the most powerful tool to improve patients' well-being.

"What it should not be used for is to make money.

"It is the patient who should benefit not the surgeon."

A spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority said they supported any attempts by organisations to promote codes of good advertising practice.

"We look into all complaints and make an adjudication.

"This is not something we are inundated about but there are more adverts of that nature out there now so we you might expect more complaints."


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