BAAPS submits advertising code banning cosmetic surgery ads to under-18s

Published: 21-Sep-2012

Strict code outlines 12 ‘bare minimum’ policies

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has submitted a new advertising code to the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which calls for 12 ‘bare minimum’ measures to be adopted by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The 12 measures aim to help protect the public from unethical practices and unhealthy psychological repercussions that may develop as a result of the advertising of cosmetic surgery in public places. Among the measures, BAAPS has asked CAP to “prohibit all advertising aimed at the under-18s for example the use of young spokespeople such as celebrities that appeal to this age group” and to “prohibit advertising in public places where children can see these ads, such as posters, billboards, sides of buses and television”.

The submission follows BAAPS’ call for an outright ban on the advertising of cosmetic surgery in public places, which they made in May, following a report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, which revealed that half of the UK public suffer from negative body image – and that girls as young as five worry about their size and appearance.

Consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS President Fazel Fatah said: “For a long time the BAAPS has expressed concern over susceptible patients being at risk through the unrestricted proliferation of cosmetic surgery advertising. It is clear that some providers take advantage of the vulnerability of people who seek surgical treatments for psychological reasons. Cosmetic surgery is often portrayed as a commodity raising unrealistic expectations rather than as a medical treatment that can have life long effect, which is why we have been campaigning for an all-out ban on this type of advertising.”

Other measures submitted by BAAPS include the prohibition of: all forms of discounted offers including seasonal incentives; time limited offers; targeting vulnerable specific groups such as divorcees, new mothers or brides; loyalty cards; the advertising of combined procedures such as two for one offers; the recruitment of patients by agent either in the UK or abroad; the use of models or ‘real life’ patients that cause unrealistic expectations; the use of money-off or discount vouchers to book surgery; cosmetic surgery prizes; and ‘refer a friend’ schemes in return for a discount.

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