At the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) conference last month, it was announced that a number of cosmetic surgery clinics are still offering cut-price deals and perks — despite recommendations from Sir Bruce Keogh that they should be banned.
I find myself asking the question: who is in charge of the aesthetic industry? While government and lawmakers — both in the UK and throughout Europe — can, of course, put restrictions on what is possible or who can perform which treatment, it is physicians who remain ‘in charge’. Physicians are the ones on the front line, dealing with patients, choosing which treatments to offer, driving standards, and sharing eveidence. Why, therefore, are we still talking about this? Why are some still offering cut-price deals and continually bringing the industry into disrepute?
It should be remembered that we are in the business of medicine and of health care. I wouldn’t expect to find a cut-price deal promoting a kidney transplant, so why are we still allowing cut-price deals on botulinum toxin or laser hair removal treatments to continue to be the norm? It seems that we have forgotten the medical aspects of these treatments, and the medical devices we use.
According to the research by the BAAPS, more than half of the top 50 aesthetic plastic surgery providers in the UK still advertise promotional deals tied to ‘freebies’, competitions or even holidays. Furthermore, not one provider gave patients the recommended two-stage written consent cooling-off period.
Before I spontaneously combust with frustration at the entire situation, I must state that what is bothering me most about the entire situation in the UK is that it seems like we’re waiting for someone else to tell us what we should or shouldn’t be doing — waiting for government to put limitations in place, when really we should be taking the reigns ourselves to promote best practice and declare war on cut-price treatment offers in sub-standard conditions.
A few months ago I wrote an editorial about the winner of The Apprentice, a television programme in which 16 big business hopefuls undertake a series of tasks to win an investment from Lord Alan Sugar. This year’s winner hoped to invest her winnings in a chain of cosmetic surgery clinics. While I am still against the investment with regard to its trivialising the industry at a time when the aforementioned Keogh review labelled it as a ‘crisis waiting to happen’, at least she is trying to promote debate on industry standards and raise further awareness of patient safety issues (even if it may simply be a brand-promoting ploy). Can you say the same?