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Cosmetic surgery advert banned from TV after being deemed ‘irresponsible’

Posted: 15/01/2018

A controversial breast enhancement surgery advert has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for exploiting body insecurities among new mums. After receiving complaints, the ASA took the clip down, citing it as an ‘irresponsible’ advertisement that could make new mothers feel vulnerable about the physical changes they experience after giving birth.

The TV advert for Transform Cosmetic Surgery featured a new mum, 34 year old Lou Newton, who said she had breast enhancement surgery as a way to return to her pre-pregnancy figure. In the advert, a female voice-over stated: “We had our little girl and she’s our world, getting back in shape was really hard. I lost the weight but I lost my chest too. I just thought, I’m gonna do something about it. So I had breast surgery with Transform. It’s not something I think about now. I just get on and enjoy my life and I love being able to wear what I want.”

Following a number of complaints, the ASA launched an investigation and found that the advert directly targeted women who had recently become mothers and considered that focusing on the negative perception a new mother might have of her body after giving birth, the advert was likely to have exploited their insecurities. The advert was therefore deemed ‘irresponsible’.

Transform responded by saying that the testimonial in the advert was genuine and did not trivialise breast surgery, highlighting the qualification in the advert which stated ‘no surgical procedure is without risk’ and it ‘should not be taken lightly’. The ASA, however, pointed out that the disclaimer appeared in small font at the bottom of the screen and only towards the beginning of the advert, making it easy to miss.

Elise Bevan, senior associate in the cosmetic surgery team at Penningtons Manches LLP, comments: “This is the latest example of irresponsible advertising of cosmetic surgery, after an advert by Transform, which featured the testimonial of a 21 year old blogger who had undergone breast enhancement surgery, was banned by the advertising watchdog in 2016 for the same reasons. The last few years have seen the regulations surrounding cosmetic surgery advertising tighten. Clear guidance has been provided by the ASA which relates to the marketing of both surgical and non-surgical cosmetic interventions, covering issues such as the use of exaggerated or unrealistic claims, the trivialisation of treatments and issues of responsibility. The General Medical Council also states that doctors must avoid irresponsible advertising. It is important that anyone considering cosmetic surgery looks beyond the glossy adverts and glowing testimonials to understand the precise details of what is involved before embarking on any procedure.”

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