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Patients at risk from irresponsible adverts

December 15, 2008

Women’s lives are being put at risk by cowboy cosmetic surgery clinics using irresponsible adverts to seduce them into having quickie lunchtime facelifts or discount five-in-one operations, plastic surgeons have warned.

Adverts in women’s glossy magazines often give patients unrealistic expectations and encourage them to make snap decisions about breast enlargements, tummy tucks and liposuction without proper consultation, they said.

Douglas McGeorge, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), said there was a ‘worrying trend’ for clinics to use irresponsible marketing techniques to sell women operations they didn’t necessarily need.

He ‘named and shamed’ several adverts, including one promoting breast implants which was used on the London Underground and was recently banned for misleading women.
Other adverts included one offering ‘five in one’ operation packages for £3,950, a lunch break facelift, which Mr McGeorge said was impossible, and another which offered a £500 discount off the cost of surgery if women signed up quickly.

One advert had even been digitally enhanced to show the body of an ‘anatomically impossible’ woman, Mr McGeorge added.
Speaking at the BAAPS annual conference, Mr McGeorge, a consultant plastic surgeon, said: ‘We are very concerned about the quality of adverts in some women’s magazines, many of them leave a lot to be desired.

‘The idea of a lunch break facelift is lovely but it simply does not exist, it is impossible.
‘Similarly, offers encouraging people to sign up quickly to get discounts are rushing people into procedures without considering whether the treatment is appropriate for them.
‘Many of these adverts have been touched up and are encouraging false expectations of cosmetic surgery. Young women in particular are being seduced by adverts in these magazines, but it is very difficult to regulate them.

‘For them (the clinics) it is all about getting people through the till, rather than patient care.
‘To draw people in through the door and sell them operations they may not need is unethical.
‘We can make a complaint and the adverts may be withdrawn, but the damage has already been done.’

Tanveer Jaleel, partner and founder of TJL Solicitors, said they were seeing increasing numbers of women seeking compensation after being left disappointed or injured by botched operations.
‘Women see the adverts in these magazines and are lured into having surgery without being told the risks,’ he said.
‘Often they go in wanting a breast enlargement and come out of the clinic having agreed to two or three procedures they don’t necessarily need.
‘Many have been mis-sold operations, are left physically scarred and come to us to seek redress through the courts.’


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