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The government is launching a new awareness campaign to improve the public’s understanding of the potential risks associated with botched cosmetic surgery.

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed a May launch for the campaign, which is being introduced in response to the growing number of people receiving cosmetic procedures from unqualified professionals, or with limited understanding of the possible negative outcomes. The aim will be to ensure that anyone thinking about surgery takes the time to seek out the expert advice they need to make an informed choice.

The first details of the campaign

A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care revealed to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that the campaign will look to ensure the public is fully informed about the importance of seeking professional advice regarding cosmetic procedures such as dermal fillers and Botox injections, as well as other forms of surgery.

The initiative is also designed to reduce the number of cosmetic surgery procedures that go wrong, which would help to mitigate the impact that botched surgery inevitably has on the patient’s mental and physical health. The campaign hopes to also reduce the costs accrued by the NHS when providing corrective treatment following procedures of this kind.

A statement from the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Anyone considering a cosmetic procedure should take the time to find a reputable, safe and qualified practitioner, and make sure they understand the impact of any treatment on their physical and mental health.

“We’re working to improve the safety of cosmetic procedures, through better training and clear information so that people can make informed decisions about their care.”

Why is the campaign being launched?

An online survey of 1,033 women aged 18 to 30, commissioned by the Victoria Derbyshire programme to coincide with the campaign launch, has indicated that 83% would be keen to change part of their body if money and health risks were not a concern.

This reflects the growing level of interest in cosmetic procedures among the British public - a trend that the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) attributes in part to the online promotion and glamorisation of cosmetic surgery among celebrities and social media influencers, as well as rising availability and affordability.

However, this increase in demand for surgery has not necessarily been accompanied by any real improvement in public understanding of what these procedures entail or what could go wrong, meaning many people are seeking treatment from practitioners who lack medical training, or using self-injected dermal or lip fillers at home with no supervision. Additionally, some are travelling abroad to receive controversial treatments like the so-called “Brazilian butt lift", which has led to a number of fatalities.

Data from Save Face, a national register of accredited practitioners, shows that 934 patient complaints were received about unregistered practitioners in 2017-18, with 616 relating to dermal fillers. The government will be hoping that these trends can all be brought under control by better public education.

The view from Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors

BAAPS has already welcomed the idea of the campaign in principle, and Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors is also optimistic that the initiative could have a positive impact.

Michael Saul, from Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, said: “Cosmetic surgery can deliver positive outcomes for patients in the right circumstances, but at present there is not enough being done to ensure that the public is properly educated about the realities of how these procedures should work.

“Social media influencers regularly flaunt the results of cosmetic procedures in a way that normalises surgery as a straightforward beauty solution. In reality, cosmetic surgery represents a serious medical intervention, and should therefore only be performed by a qualified professional on a patient who has a clear understanding of the accompanying risks.

“We look forward to hearing more details about the government’s public awareness campaign, and will remain committed to our own efforts to educate the public on how important it is to get the right advice before considering any type of surgery.”

Find out more

At Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, we believe that safeguards need to be put in place to prevent vulnerable people from getting the wrong information about cosmetic surgery and its effects.

We recently launched a petition alongside 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, we have also created a How to Find a Safe Cosmetic Surgeon checklist to help you ensure that your chosen practitioner is responsible and qualified, and that you are asking the right questions about your care.

If something does go wrong during surgery due to medical negligence, getting the right legal advice and support is vital. Get in touch with us today by calling 0808 252 7176, or complete our online enquiry form, and we can provide you with the expert advice you will need.

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