Shu Cosmetic Surgery has announced that it is offering complimentary liposuction of flanks (love handles) for each qualifying patient who undergoes a full tummy tuck. As cosmetic surgery providers are currently free to advertise their services without restriction on content or placement, promotional deals such as this have become the norm with clinics and other cosmetic surgery providers competing against each other in this rapidly expanding industry.
In 2013 the Government commissioned an independent review of the regulations governing the UK cosmetic industry and flagged concerns regarding the advertising of cosmetic surgery and other treatments. Recommendations were made for an advertising code of conduct to be developed which would be mandatory for all practitioners.
Advertising practices used by UK providers of cosmetic surgery, from “buy one get one free” (BOGOF) offers to time-limited deals and surgical holidays, have been attracting unwanted attention as well as patients. The British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has been leading diverse calls for tighter rules for some time but, as yet, no bans or regulations have been enforced.
Elise Bevan, senior associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP, said: “These promotional adverts recklessly trivialise invasive surgical procedures that carry inherent health risks. We act for a number of clients who have received substandard treatment or surgery purchased as part of a promotional package and have had more surgery than they originally intended because of a ‘good offer’. As there are few restrictions on cosmetic surgery advertising, some clinics engage in marketing practices that exploit people’s insecurities, oversell potential benefits and play down the risks of surgery. At the heart of all this is the profit motive for the clinics and providers.
“There is strong support for the prohibition of cosmetic surgery advertising from key bodies within the industry itself, including BAAPS and the Medical Women’s Federation. We agree that the advertising we predominantly see on the internet and in magazines normalises the idea of undergoing major surgery to address someone’s dissatisfaction with their appearance. We support a ban on this type of marketing or, at the very least, call for health warnings on cosmetic surgery advertisements. Women should always seek independent advice and counselling and avoid the temptation of cut-price offers. We would urge the Government to address this issue sooner rather than later.”