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Surgeons call for ban on cosmetic surgery advertising

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Television and remote

© Rex Features

Advertising of plastic and cosmetic surgery should be totally banned over fears that a "cowboy" market has emerged, according to a leading industry body.

The cosmetic surgery industry has been under the spotlight ever since the PIP breast implant scandal, in which around 50,000 British women were found to have been given implants filled with unregulated industrial silicone from now defunct French firm Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP).

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh is leading a government review of the industry after the scandal amid calls for greater regulation.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has welcomed the review, but also feels that advertising of cosmetic surgery services should be banned.

Current advertising rules ban any promotion of medicines or licensed drugs to the public, but no such ban exists for surgery clinics.

BAAPS noted concerns over unscrupulous companies offering loyalty cards, bonus offers and vouchers as competition prizes as part of their marketing strategy.

Consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS president Fazel Fatah told BBC News: "Over the last decade the BAAPS has worked tirelessly to educate the public on the many aggressive marketing gimmicks that not only trivialise surgery but endanger the patient.

"We have warned against the unrealistic expectations set by reality 'makeover' shows and against crass competition prizes promising 'mummy makeovers' and body overhauls.

"In no other area of surgery would one encounter Christmas vouchers and two-for-one offers - the pendulum has swung too far, and it is time for change."

Among its recommendations, BAAPS is calling for a ban on all advertising of cosmetic surgery services, and the re-establishment of an implant register.

> Only Way Is Essex Lauren Pope reveals PIP breast implants anguish

Meanwhile, private clinics that charge for pregnancy services, including abortions, are now allowed to advertise on television and radio under new regulations.

At the weekend, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) said that clinics offering a range of "post-conception advice services" (PCAS), including counselling and terminations, are free to advertise in the broadcast media as there is no justification to prevent them from doing so.

In a statement, BCAP said: "BCAP decided to remove the television rule, which effectively prevents commercial PCAS offering personal advice from advertising, and the radio rule which effectively prevents only PCAS with local authority or NHS approval from advertising.

"BCAP understood that the removal of these restrictions would allow legally available PCAS to advertise, while maintaining robust protection for general audiences through existing rules which prevent broadcast advertising from causing harm or offence."

Last year, Ofcom cleared the UK's first television advert for free advice on abortion services after rejecting complaints about its "political" nature. The Advertising Standards Authority also dismissed more than 4,000 complaints about the ad, run by sexual health charity Marie Stopes International.

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