Plastic surgeons accused of hard-sell tactics by offering loyalty cards, discounts and prizes

In a sign of growing tension about the lucrative trade, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons criticised two of the largest providers of cosmetic surgery for "trivialising" and "degrading" the specialty. The association criticised the Transform Medical Group, the largest provider of cosmetic surgery in Britain, for offering a "loyalty card" that encouraged patients to return for multiple procedures. It condemned the group for selling gift vouchers for surgery and for offering non-surgical procedures as raffle prizes in an exhibition.

Bupa, the health insurer which runs a network of private hospitals, was criticised for appointing sales representatives paid on commission. "They may be briefed to target young women," the association said.

Magazines including the women's title Top Sante and Zoo magazine for men came under fire for offering cosmetic surgery and "extreme makeovers" as prizes in competitions, and reality television programmes were attacked for their "increasingly sensationalist" coverage of cosmetic surgery.

At the association's conference in London yesterday, plastic surgeons produced £250 gift vouchers, loyalty cards, raffle tickets and magazines offering prizes of cosmetic procedures, collected from commercial organisations.

Adam Searle, president of the association and a consultant plastic surgeon at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, said: "This trivialisation and commoditisation of medical procedures is appalling. It seems to have come down to the level of loyalty cards, money-off vouchers, competition prizes and even a raffle prize of a procedure of your choice.

"This belittling of the seriousness of undertaking a medical procedure degrades not only our specialty but also the medical profession as a whole.The true tragedy is that within this epidemic of rather tasteless activity, there are going to be patients who experience significant complications and lifelong damage from pursuing ill-planned and ill-thought-out operations. Sensible and educated decision-making about cosmetic surgery is in danger of being lost."

Mr Searle said casualties of the hard-sell approach were regularly seen by him and his colleagues. He described a young woman who had been talked into having a breast operation and later regretted it. "She had an unhappy result and she needed further attention to put it right. It was a combination of a bad decision [to have the surgery] and a bad operation."

Andrew Batchelor, a consultant plastic surgeon at the Bupa hospital in Leeds, said some clinics hired doctors with inadequate training who then performed inappropriate operations. "The classic case is of a fat woman who goes to a surgeon to be made thinner with liposuction. She gets inexpert treatment and ends up as a fat woman with lumps and bumps and dimples. I have seen that scenario on literally dozens of occasions in the past 10 years."

A clampdown on cosmetic surgery clinics was announced by the Government's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, in January. An estimated 20,000 clinics and beauty salons face prosecution if they fail to comply with new rules governing advertising and procedures.

Demand for cosmetic surgery is accelerating. There were 16,367 procedures performed on women last year, compared with 10,738 in 2003, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. The number of men paying for cosmetic surgery rose 60 per cent from 822 in 2003 to 1,348 in 2004.

A Bupa spokeswoman rejected the allegations but admitted advisers were paid on a commission system. "Bupa strongly refutes that we would ever attach sales incentives to any medical procedure," she said.

In a statement, Transform said it offered patients the best clinical standards and worked closely with the Healthcare Commission. It defended its advertising as a means of bringing the benefits of high-quality surgery to the public at prices it can afford.

Karen Buchanan, former model: 'I looked like I had fought Mike Tyson'

Karen Buchanan was working as a model in Italy when she underwent a minor operation to straighten her nose. It ended her career.

She flew to Glasgow, her home city, to have the operation in a private clinic.

She said: "My family couldn't see anything wrong with me. But my mother and grandmother were both successful models and perhaps they understood how important my looks were."

Two days after the operation, she was devastated when she discovered its results.

"When the bandages came off, I was lost for words. I had paid £2,500 and my nose had been transformed into a shapeless nub.

The tip had fallen and was drooping downwards at a funny angle, while the bridge was bumpy and twisted. I looked likeI had done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson."

She flew back to Milan to try to salvage her career, but found employers were reluctant to take her on. Another plastic surgeon told her that part of the cartilage that supported her nose was missing.

"We will probably never know whether the cartilage issue was an existing one that was exacerbated by the surgery, or whether it was the result of gross incompetence," she said.

"I went from being happy and secure to being withdrawn and miserable."

She had further surgery for a cartilage graft, which repaired her nose. She now works as a beautician, but said: "I would think twice before messing around with my face again."

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Associate Recrutiment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

    Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

    £120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

    PMLD Teacher

    Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

    Day In a Page

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence