The fine line between ethics and advertising – cosmetic surgery is not an appropriate prize
There is often a fine line to tread in terms of what is ethical and what is not when it comes to advertising and offering services outside of the ‘traditional’ consumer/seller relationship. The issue of what is appropriate for cosmetic surgery raised its head again recently, following the discovery that a cosmetic procedure was offered as an auction prize at a prestigious London society event. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) reported that “plastic surgeons are hugely disappointed that, during an annual dinner at a plush London hotel, a private clinic has blatantly disregarded General Medical Council guidelines in order to offer cosmetic surgery as an auction prize”.
As a reputable industry body, BAAPS has a responsibility to ensure that surgeons are adhering to strict guidelines which ensure that business is conducted in a suitable, ethical manner. Given that no cosmetic procedure is completely risk free, BAAPS is clear in its stance that giving away cosmetic procedures as treats or prizes is not appropriate at all. The decision to undergo surgical or non-surgical cosmetic surgery is not one that should be made lightly. The decision-making process should be thorough and supported by a full medical and emotional assessment. Giving away procedures as a prize undermines the process that member surgeons work hard to enforce.
Adhering to the correct cosmetic surgery standards
This practice isn’t just frowned upon, it is forbidden by industry guidelines, “GMC guidance for doctors who offer cosmetic interventions clearly states that services must not be offered as a prize, and that when communicating information about cosmetic procedures, promotional tactics must not encourage ill-considered decisions, or knowingly allow others to misrepresent or offer treatment in ways that would conflict with this guidance.”
A more ethical approach
Although this discovery is very much a one-off and is not something that we see very often, it reminds us of the importance of ensuring that consumers know what to expect from their cosmetic surgeon. If you are exploring surgical or non-surgical procedures with a surgeon and you feel under pressure from tight deadlines, pushy sales techniques or money-saving offers such as ‘buy one, get one at a reduced price’, then this should set alarm bells ringing. You wouldn’t expect your dentist to offer a second filling at a reduced rate, so don’t accept this kind of practice from a cosmetic surgeon either. It is important to check out surgeons’ credentials and professional affiliations before committing to any procedure, to ensure that you have chosen an appropriately regulated professional.