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Patients pressurised into cosmetic surgery by the ‘hard sell.’

July 1, 2008

Cosmetic surgery clinics are using hard-sell techniques to pressurise patients into risky procedures without proper medical advice, consumer groups and lawyers have warned.

Time-limited special offers, two-for-one deals and exaggerated claims about results are among the methods used by clinics to lure new patients, a study by consumer association Which? found.

They have teamed up with experts from TJL Solicitors to call for better regulation of the industry.

Jenny Driscoll, health campaigner for Which?, said: ‘Our research over the last ten years has consistently shown that the cosmetics industry isn’t capable of regulating itself.

‘Legislation is the only way of giving consumers adequate protection."

Undercover Which? investigators posed as potential patients at 16 clinics and experts assessed transcripts of the consultations. They found marketing techniques such as imposing deadlines and offering "buy one get one free" deals were used to hurry the client into agreeing to a procedure.

This was despite industry guidelines stating patients should have a two-week cooling-off period, and banning time-limited incentives.

They also discovered non-medical staff were giving inappropriate and inaccurate advice despite industry guidelines stating that practitioners must properly assess the patient’s suitability for treatment and undertake outpatient consultations.

Staff made false or misleading claims about treatments – for example, the lifespan of breast implants or the length of time Botox® would last, investigators found.

Tanveer Jaleel, senior partner and founder of TJL Solicitors said: "The number of cosmetic surgery operations is growing at an astonishing rate in Britain, but few people know enough about the industry or that it is poorly regulated.

‘More needs to be done to prevent the private sector from trivialising cosmetic surgery with offers such as the ‘quickie facelift’, the ‘lunchtime boob job’, and other incentives such as big discounts in time for summer.’

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