UK & World News
Plastic Surgery Campaigns Target 17-Year-Olds
A study commissioned by the Government to look into the cosmetic surgery industry has found that 17-year-olds are being targeted by aggressive marketing campaigns.
The interim report has found people want to see tighter restrictions around the industry to protect patients from certain sales techniques.
The review was commissioned by the Department of Health following the PiP breast implant scandal.
Science journalist Vivien Parry, who is on the review panel, told Sky News: "I have been really shocked by what I've seen.
"Extraordinary things. For instance, 17-year-olds being plagued by texts saying, 'In less than a year's time you'll be able to have cosmetic surgery.'"
She added: "I just think that's awful. What it does to the psyche of young girls is one thing. But it sets up a cosmetic procedure, which has both short-term and long-term risks, as if it were something entirely trivial."
The report found patients and industry groups want tighter restrictions on advertising including banning two-for-one or time-limited deals, and cosmetic surgery as competition prizes.
They want to introduce a two-stage written consent process so that people have time to reflect.
Another demand is for patients to receive better information before making their decision. For example, providing them with photographs showing expected bruising and scarring.
Ms Parry said: "Cosmetic procedures are being sold like double glazing. If you make a decision within a week, you'll get money off.
"You can buy one procedure, get another procedure for free, bring along a friend, or have cosmetic surgery as a raffle prize.
"It concentrates on the money side of it so people forget about the health side."
PiP victim Victoria Newton, who had to have her breast implants replaced after they both ruptured, welcomed the report.
She told Sky News that when she first considered surgery, aged just 19, she was pressured and misinformed ahead of her decision.
Ms Newton said: "There was nothing personal about my consultation. It wasn't like I was going in for an operation. It was like I was buying a car or booking a holiday.
"There was a time-limited offer and I was really encouraged to go for that. At the time, I thought I was getting a good deal. They offered £500 off the price of the surgery, if I signed up that day."
After sparking a global health scare, the implants made by now-defunct French company Poly Implant Prothese were pulled from the market in several countries due to fears they could rupture and leak silicone into the body.
The interim report into cosmetic surgery practices suggests anything that pressures patients like Ms Newton to make a snap decision about surgery should be banned.
It states that consultations should always be conducted by the surgeon who will carry out the procedure, rather than sales staff.
But the president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, Rajiv Grover, says the recommendations do not go far enough.
"We're very pleased the report has focused on sales tactics used in cosmetic surgery. It's something we've been campaigning for, for the last decade," he told Sky News.
"However, we'd like to go further and suggest an outright ban on advertising, just as you would have for prescription-only medicines and other types of surgery."
He added: "This is a medical procedure and should be subject to the same regulations as any other medical procedure."
The suggestions highlighted in the interim report will feed into the work led by the NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh, who is due to publish his full recommendations in March.