Plastic surgeons welcome support to stop under 18s accessing sunbeds

Media Statement- 9 April 2010

Responding to the success of the Private Member's Bill on sun bed regulation, voted through by House of Lords, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) said legislation to prevent under eighteens from using sun beds will help reduce the incidence of melanoma.

David Coleman, consultant plastic surgeon and member of BAPRAS said:

"There is clear evidence that people are more likely to get melanoma later in life if they have had high sun or UV exposure earlier on. Preventing teenagers from using sun beds will protect them from that risk.  

"This legislation will help ensure that more young people are protected from avoidable skin damage that can, in very serious cases, lead to death."  

A high proportion of UK plastic surgeons' non-emergency work-load is spent treating and reconstructing patients with skin cancer.  BAPRAS is concerned that young people in particular don't fully understand the dangers and long term health risks associated with skin cancer and feel that restricting use of sun beds will help prevent a further increase in levels of skin cancer in the UK.

Research from BAPRAS in 2009 showed that  28% of 18-24 year olds say the risk of skin cancer won't make them spend less time sunbathing.  Of these, 43% said this was because the threat of skin cancer didn't occur to them, while 19% didn't realise they were at risk of developing it. In addition, 16% of 18-24 saying they would be too busy to get a mole checked and one in ten saying getting it looked at wouldn't even occur to them. 



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  Anyone can check the GMC to find out if a surgeon is on the plastic surgery specialist register;

About sunbeds
Sunbeds emit predominantly UVA and some UVB, both of which can damage the DNA in cells of the skin. However, in recent years, lamps of sunbeds have been manufactured that produce higher levels of UVB to mimic the solar spectrum and speed the tanning process. While UVB has well known carcinogenic properties and whose excessive exposure is known to lead to the development of skin cancers, recent scientific studies suggest that high exposures to the longer wavelength UVA could also have an impact on skin cancer occurrence.

As with sun exposure, recent studies indicate a relationship between the use of sunbeds and malignant melanoma as well as non-melanoma skin cancers such as squamous and basal cell carcinomas. Thus, the consequences of regular sunbed use may include disfigurement from removal of skin cancers, early death if the cancer is a malignant melanoma, as well as substantial costs to national health systems for screening, treating and monitoring skin cancer patients.
Source: World Health Organisation