UK surgeons target aggressive marketing


The Royal College of Surgeons is urging patients to think carefully before cosmetic surgery. It has launched independent information online to counter the aggressive marketing campaigns and ruthless sales techniques that some unscrupulous private companies employ.

There is specific advice on the risks of cosmetic surgery abroad.

The cosmetic surgery industry is burgeoning in the UK and globally. Yet patients often find it difficult to choose a suitable surgeon and to obtain trustworthy information about the risks involved.

The patient resources on the RCS website offer advice on how to choose the right surgeon and hospital, explain the risks of undergoing surgery, and possible complications to consider. The web pages also include a section on questions to ask a surgeon before patients consent to an operation, a downloadable checklist, and three short animation films.

The RCS advises patients to give themselves time to reflect on their decision – it strongly recommends taking at least two weeks between an initial consultation with the operating surgeon and consenting to surgery. It advises patients to ask questions, and not feel pressured into consenting to surgery.

Stephen Cannon of the RCS comments: “The cosmetic surgery industry is booming, but due to the aggressive marketing and ruthless sales tactics of some unscrupulous companies, it can be very difficult for patients to find independent, trustworthy information which gives them a clear idea of what an operation would entail. Undergoing cosmetic surgery is a big decision that should never be taken lightly and we would urge anyone to think carefully about it. The vast majority of cosmetic surgery is carried out in the private sector and many people do not realise that the law currently allows any qualified doctor – surgeon or otherwise – to perform cosmetic surgery, without undertaking additional training or qualifications. Our advice is that if you are thinking of having some kind of work done, make sure you consult a surgeon who is trained and experienced in the procedure you are considering. Look them up on the General Medical Council’s Register.”

In the coming months, the RCS will also publish a register of certified surgeons in different cosmetic surgical procedures. This will allow patients to look for a surgeon by procedure, who has provided evidence to the RCS that they have the appropriate training, experience and insurance to practise in the UK.



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