A face is for life, not just for Christmas

Press release- 5 December 2009

The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), warns the public not to give cosmetic surgery as a gift this Christmas. 

As Christmas present buying peaks and the party season begins, BAPRAS is warning the public not to fall for tactics that pressure people into changing their looks or encourages giving cosmetic surgery as a gift.   

Targeting female consumers in particular, some cosmetic clinics, use a myriad of marketing techniques to lure consumers in, warns BAPRAS.  Amongst the examples BAPRAS has seen are “two procedures for price of one”, offering cosmetic surgery as a raffle prize, giving vouchers that could be exchanged for an operation and online discount offers to boost seasonal sales.

Plastic surgeons are concerned that some clinics are taking advantage of the fact that cosmetic surgery is not taken as seriously as it should be, because it has been trivialised by TV programmes that treat cosmetic surgery as a quick and easy solution for anyone wanting to improve the way they look or feel. 

BAPRAS says that anyone thinking of having a surgical procedure should give serious consideration to the type of operation they are considering and should carefully investigate the type of surgery and surgeon they are considering. 

Tim Goodacre, consultant plastic surgeon and Vice-President Elect of BAPRAS, said:

“Aesthetic surgery can have a really positive impact on a person’s quality of life by boosting self esteem and confidence. However, it is still major surgery and should not be entered into lightly, and certainly not given as an unsolicited Christmas gift.

“It is worrying that cosmetic surgery is being seen by some as a commodity that can be given as easily as a handbag at Christmas. Face lifts, liposuction and breast surgery are now marketed by some in the same way as the latest moisturiser or mascara.”

Cosmetic ‘sunshine and surgery’ packages are becoming increasingly popular. Research published in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery last year found almost a quarter of BAPRAS’ membership (23%) treated patients on the NHS with complications related to cosmetic surgery performed outside of the UK.  Going under the knife whilst having time off is seen as a viable solution for many, but BAPRAS warns UK patients it could cost them more than their well earned cash if they choose to have cosmetic surgery abroad.  It is urging consumers who are thinking about undergoing cosmetic surgery, either at home or abroad, to undertake plenty of research before doing so. 

BAPRAS members saw at least 208 patients in their NHS clinics across the UK for complications after cosmetic surgery abroad in 2007.  Approximately three quarters of those patients had complications that required treatment.  Of these, 26% of patients had to have emergency surgery, 31% required elective surgery to rectify the problem, 33% had non-surgical treatment as an out-patient and 8% of patients had non-surgical treatment as an in-patient.

BAPRAS strongly advises anyone who is considering cosmetic surgery to follow their checklist.

The Five Cs  cosmetic surgery checklist
1. Think about the CHANGE you want to see. 
Do your research.  Find out all you can about the treatment(s) you want.  Be precise as to the change you hope to see and the reasons why. First visit the Department of Health’s website (www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/CosmeticSurgery/index.htm). BAPRAS’ website (www.bapras.org.uk) also contains useful patient information on the different cosmetic surgery options available.
2. CHECK OUT potential surgeons.
If you are thinking about cosmetic surgery, speak to your GP. Make sure that you find a surgeon that has the right qualifications and is on the appropriate specialist register with the GMC.  Find out about their experience of the procedure you are considering and make sure you meet them before you commit to having something done. 
3. Have a thorough CONSULTATION.
Your surgeon will discuss and clarify the treatment options with you and then plan your treatment.  Make sure you know the risks involved and feel comfortable with the surgeon who will be carrying out your surgery. 
4. COOL OFF before you commit. 
You need to be confident about your decision to have cosmetic surgery.  So after your initial consultation, give yourself some time to decide that you want the surgery and to make sure you feel at ease with the surgeon who will be treating you.  Don’t commit to surgery if you have any doubts that either the procedure, or the surgeon is the right one for you. Often your surgeon will advise a second consultation before the final decisions are made.
5. CARE about your aftercare. 
Aftercare can be just as important as the surgery itself, so make sure you know who to contact and how you will be looked after, especially if there are any complications or problems following your surgery or treatment. 



BAPRAS, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, 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 800 members and is the 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. Anyone can check the GMC to find out if a surgeon is on the plastic surgery specialist register.