Cut it out: Surgery societies and Britain's largest surgical royal college slam summer discounts
Professional associations for plastic surgery and the UK’s oldest surgical Royal College jointly condemn marketing tactics
Despite Sir Bruce Keogh’s review into cosmetic surgery concluding that time-linked incentives, group deals and other inducements in the aesthetic sector should be banned, summer-themed ‘buy now’ marketing promotions continue to flourish, drawing condemnation from the main professional organisations involved in surgical education and training: the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (www.baaps.org.uk), the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (www.bapras.org.uk), and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (www.rcsed.ac.uk).
A study which was presented at the most recent BAAPS conference has just been published in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery this May revealed that more than half (52%) of the highest Google-ranking aesthetic plastic surgery providers still offer promotional deals; out of which nearly two in five (37%) were time-linked (as in ‘book by Friday!’). Not one provided the recommended two-stage written consent ‘cooling off’ process recommended by the Cosmetic Surgical Practice Working Party (CSWP).
According to consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS Council member Kevin Hancock;
“If cosmetic surgery is being offered at a discounted rate, it is either because corners are being cut in order to save money, or because the clinic is making an extreme profit in the first instance. Cosmetic surgery is still ‘proper’ surgery - like any other operation and should never be commoditized via vouchers or time-linked incentives. This type of marketing is blatantly trying to pressure patients to have operations that they should be making informed decisions about, instead of rushing into on a spur-of-the-moment whim. These clinics repeatedly and intentionally flout the recommendations of the Keogh review, and since the Government has not initiated any legislation to prevent them from doing so, will likely continue to prey on vulnerable people with no more repercussion than a slap on the wrist.”
BAPRAS Deputy President and consultant plastic surgeon Nigel Mercer adds;
“The new EU-wide standard actually outlaws incentivizing cosmetic surgery and universally, the surgeons within both BAAPS and BAPRAS have agreed that these practices should cease, as they put undue pressure on patients to have surgery when it may not be appropriate and they have not fully considered the risks. To offer a ‘beach-ready body for the summer’ is not ethical, nor is it possible in July anyways. A surgically-obtained ‘beach-ready body’ if surgery was even appropriate would require that the patient had had their surgery at Easter! No new scar can take sun exposure, and sand acts like sandpaper on operated skin. This shows marketing at its worst: false hopes, false expectations.”
Dr Judy Evans, Council member of Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; which recently opened its first-ever base of operations in Birmingham to cater for the 80% of its UK membership based in England and Wales; who is also a consultant plastic surgeon said;
“Surgery should never be subject to cut price campaigns or cheap offers, it is too important. After the Keogh report it is especially shocking that this is still going on. We need parliament to pass the laws that were promised to make this sort of thing illegal. People who produce adverts like this do the whole profession harm, and patients are seriously misled, or even worse, harmed.”
A complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority has been submitted in response to the “summer surgery” marketing strategy.
BAPRAS, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, is the voice of plastic surgery in the UK. It aims to increase the understanding of the professional specialty and scope of plastic surgery, promoting innovation in teaching, learning and research. Founded in 1946 (originally as the British Association of Plastic Surgeons), today BAPRAS has over 900 members and is the official professional representative body for reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgeons providing services to patients on the NHS and privately in the UK. Members of the public can find a member plastic surgeon in their area by logging on to www.bapras.org.uk. The GMC specialist register can be checked to find out if a surgeon is on the plastic surgery specialist register; www.gmc-uk.org/register/search/index.asp
The BAAPS (www.baaps.org.uk), based at the Royal College of Surgeons, is a not-for-profit organisation, established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit. Members undergo thorough background screening before they can join. Information about specific procedures and surgeons contact details can be found on the web site, and further materials can be posted to members of the public seeking specialised information.
About The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
RCSEd (www.rcsed.ac.uk) was first incorporated as the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1505, and is one of the oldest surgical corporations in the world with a membership of over 22,000 professionals in almost 100 countries worldwide. The College promotes the highest standards of surgical and dental practice through its interest in education, training and examinations, its liaison with external medical bodies and representation of the modern surgical and dental workforce. It is also home to the UK's only Faculty of Surgical Trainers, open to all those with an interest in surgical training regardless of College affiliation. Find RCSEd on Twitter www.twitter.com/RCSEd and on Facebook www.facebook.com/rcsed
The College is based at Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW and can be reached on 0131 527 1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In March, a new base will be opening in Birmingham, catering to the 80% of the College’s UK membership who are based in England and Wales.