A friend and colleague of mine recently posted on Facebook that she had been approached by a TV production company doing a negative documentary on cosmetic surgery and ‘botched’ procedures in particular. Her response, quite rightly, was that we need to give more airtime to cosmetic procedures that do go right and focus on those clients/patients who were happy with their decision to go under the knife.

Indeed, when I receive my daily google alerts for the industry, there is always a story which details botched Botox injections or people falsely claiming to be surgeons, and even celebrities denigrated for having had too much work done. It is perhaps only once in a blue moon that we see a positive story about the industry appear in the media. As a result, it is no wonder that many potential patients fear — in the UK especially — another scandal akin to that of the PIP breast implants case.

While those of us working in the industry know that anomalies like this are not the norm, the public only see what the media choose to portray: the negative stories of botched surgeries, unlicensed physicians, and poor standards of care. It seems that it is far too easy to get hold of a laser device or ‘dermal filler’ product over the internet, for example. And unfortunately, members of the public don’t always know the questions to ask and what research into a physician’s background should be carried out to ensure that the person in whose hands you place your trust is qualified to carry out the procedures.

Perhaps as a result of such negativity thrust onto the industry, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) has launched the Smart Beauty Guide (www.smartbeautyguide.com), a new website which aims to provide consumers with the right tools to assist in the research and decision-making process for plastic and cosmetic surgery procedures. The new site provides a planning toolkit; an Ask-A-Surgeon resource; a Find a Plastic Surgeon resource; procedural information on both surgical and non-surgical procedures for women and men; and news on emerging trends and technologies in plastic surgery.

I hope that this will become an essential tool that all consumers considering surgery learn to use: patient support, safety and education are paramount to reduce the incidence of negative stories and documentaries littering the range of media channels. It is the duty of all of us to promote the positive aspects of the industry, and to ensure that our patients have all the information they need to make full and informed decisions on their treatment.