New guidelines to protect consumers from aggressive cosmetic surgery marketing are to come into force.
Doctors will be told they must not offer procedures through discounts, time-limited deals, refer-a-friend offers, gift vouchers, loyalty cards, or as a prize. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) said such advertising trivialises serious procedures and is unscrupulous.
Doctors who fail to follow the new rules may put their right to practice medicine in jeopardy. Those found to be in serious or persistent breach could be referred to a public tribunal or suspended from the medical register.
Dawn Knight believes the industry should be better regulated after her eye lift went wrong, leaving her unable to close her eyes properly. She turned to the NHS to fix the damage and says it is unethical of clinics to target consumers with offers as if they are "selling a washing machine" when surgery is a medical intervention.
"On my Facebook page alone I'm being hit with nine or 10 ads every day; their marketing strategies are pretty aggressive," she said. "The safety-net you need - that you think is there - isn't there".
BAAPS member Dr Ash Moshahebi said: "We are not just there to collect money, we are there to treat. If a procedure is not right for a patient we should always say "no" to them. That's different to a consumer product, you can go and buy a washing machine any time you like, no-one's going to say no to you."
The cosmetic surgery industry in the UK is worth £3.6bn annually. A record number of people in Britain went under the knife last year and there were 51,000 operations in the UK, a 13% increase on 2014.
Women's cosmetic surgery rose 12.5% from 2014, with breast augmentation remaining the most popular procedure. But men also underwent substantially more procedures. Male face and necklifts rose 14% while brow lifts and eye-lid surgery increased more than 15%.
The new regulations will be implemented in April.
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