The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled that cosmetic surgery adverts should not be aired before the watershed at 9pm as the content is only suitable for adults. This ruling comes after complaints were made following the airing of an advert showing three adult cosmetic procedures. Complaints about the advert included criticisms that the advert was harmful to younger generations.
The advert, which was shown at 6.45pm, featured three adults whose lives appeared to have been transformed by surgical procedures that had given them the “perfect appearance”. Many complained that the advert trivialised cosmetic procedures and may entice children to strive for this.
The procedures contained in the advert included rhinoplasty (nose job), cosmetic dentistry and breast augmentation. The voiceover to the advert declares: “If you are unhappy with your appearance you could change it. If it affects your confidence you could overcome it. If it makes you feel self-conscious, you could take control with cosmetic surgery or dentistry.” The fine print of the advert warns that “No surgical procedure is entirely without risk. Subject to consultation. Over 18s only.”
The ASA considered that the advert breached guidelines regulating the timing at which such adverts can be shown. The ASA further ruled that the advert was irresponsible and harmful to children watching. The ASA said: “We are concerned that children, and in particular young teenagers, were likely to interpret the ad differently to adult viewers.
“The ad features three characters who were depicted as unhappy with their appearance. The depictions of their sudden physical transformations were accompanied by an instant and dramatic change in their emotional wellbeing. We considered it likely that many young teenagers would identify with such negative feeling about their physical appearance.”
The ASA ruled that the advert could not be shown before 9pm.
Emily Palmer, a clinical negligence solicitor at Penningtons Manches, commented: “Patients undergoing cosmetic procedures are getting younger and younger and we are concerned that they are making decisions on the basis of achieving a perfect appearance without considering the psychological impact. The procedures are, in many cases, permanent and younger patients are not fully equipped to make these decisions, particularly if they have self-esteem issues.
“The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has also previously raised concerns about the number of younger people undergoing cosmetic procedures and recommends that other options such as counselling should be considered prior to undertaking any procedures.”