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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an advert from a cosmetic surgery company for “trivialising” the consequences of what should be considered a serious and potentially risky medical intervention.

A radio advert for the cosmetic surgery provider Cosmedicare has been pulled from the airwaves after a listener raised concerns that the message of the ad was “harmful and irresponsible”, and that it risked preying on the insecurities of young listeners to persuade them to make decisions about surgery without considering all of the potential dangers.

The ASA’s decision to ban the advert underlines the importance of responsible advertising for cosmetic surgery procedures, and offers a reminder that any decision to undergo cosmetic surgery should not be taken lightly.

Why the advert was banned

Cosmedicare’s advert, which was broadcast earlier this year, depicted a scenario in which a female character was light-heartedly apologising to a bar owner for performing a belly dance in a bar in order to “show off [her] new Cosmedicare body”.

The character justifies her decision by saying “If you've got it, flaunt it”, before a voiceover narration urges people to apply online for a free cosmetic surgery consultation with the slogan: “Cosmedicare: what will the new you do?”

The tone of these messages prompted a listener to issue a complaint to the ASA that the advert “exploited young people’s insecurities about their bodies”, while also suggesting that it “linked social confidence and attractiveness to cosmetic surgery” in a way that was harmful. Cosmedicare argued that this was not the case, saying the lighthearted tone of the advert was merely supposed to provide an anecdotal example of the kind of transformational benefits this surgery can provide.

However, the ASA decided to uphold the concerns expressed by the complainant, saying that the advert presented a message that the character depicted only felt able to display their body confidence and enjoy a new lifestyle because of their cosmetic surgery. This idea was could easily play on the insecurities many young women and teenage girls have about their bodies.

Additionally, the ASA noted that the ad did not contain any suggestion that surgery should be considered carefully, or that it would represent a significant decision - instead, the light tone and impulsive behaviour depicted served to “trivialise the seriousness” of the process.

Having previously banned adverts for cosmetic surgery aired during episodes of ITV’s Love Island last year after deeming them “irresponsible” and “harmful”, the latest ruling shows that the ASA is willing to take a hard line against cosmetic surgery ads that fail to meet its standards.

The view from Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors

Michael Saul, from Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, said: “The ASA’s decision to ban Cosmedicare’s radio advert highlights just how important it is for cosmetic surgery providers to take a responsible and realistic approach to advertising their services.

“It’s certainly true that the majority of cosmetic procedures are performed successfully, and that they can often have a positive effect on the lives of those who receive them. However, this must be balanced against the fact that cosmetic surgery is a serious commitment, and that there are many risks associated with surgical treatment.

“By treating cosmetic procedures as easy, quick-fix solutions to body image problems, advertisers may end up persuading people to rush into undergoing treatment that may not be right for them - an especially serious problem when dealing with young people who may already be under a lot of social pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards.

“Cosmetic surgery providers have every right to advertise their services, but not in a way that may expose vulnerable people to potential harm. This is why we welcome the ASA’s decision to remove this particular advert from the air.”

Find out more

At Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, we believe that more needs to be done to ensure that cosmetic procedures are not promoted irresponsibly. This is why we recently launched a petition alongside the industry body Save Face, calling for better measures to protect young people from social media content that depicts the effects of cosmetic surgery in a way that may undermine their body confidence and wellbeing.

For those who have made the decision to undergo surgery, it is vital to thoroughly research the procedure, making sure you assess all of its potential risks and side effects, as well as investigating the qualifications of your chosen practitioner. Our How to Find a Safe Cosmetic Surgeon checklist can help to guide you through this process.

In the event that something goes wrong during surgery due to medical negligence, getting the right legal advice and support will be essential. For advice, get in touch with us today by calling 0808 252 7176, or complete our online enquiry form to request a call back.

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