All cosmetic surgery advertising should be banned and annual checks carried out on surgeons, experts said today.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) is calling for a “six-point plan” to tighten up regulation of the “cowboy” market in the UK.
Government advisers are considering a range of measures for the sector following the PIP breast implant scandal, which has affected around 40,000 British women.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, who is leading a UK government review, said on Friday that an insurance scheme for cosmetic surgery patients – similar to that in the travel industry – could be introduced.
Companies pay a subscription to become members of the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), which provides a fund for people to fall back on if something goes wrong.
A breast implant registry is also under consideration by to record details of all operations.
BAAPS is calling on ministers to go further, saying cosmetic surgery as a medical procedure should not be advertised, similar to the ban that exists on promoting prescription medicines.
The association has long campaigned against what it regards as “marketing gimmicks” by cosmetic surgery firms, such as competitions to win breast implants and reality makeover shows.
BAAPS also wants:
n A register of all types of silicone implants, including those for the breast, buttock, pectoral muscle and calf;
n Dermal fillers and treatments such as Botox to be reclassified as medicines, which are subject to more stringent rules;
n A compulsory register of all practitioners rather than the present voluntary one for clinics, and all should undergo an annual audit as a membership requirement.
This would be part of a revalidation process and would be regarded as essential to allow clinicians to carry on practising.
BAAPS also wants a revalidation exercise around products with a CE mark.
The PIP implants at the centre of the recent scandal had a CE mark but were filled with non-medical grade silicone intended for mattresses.
BAAPS president Fazel Fatah said that despite the scandal, “it is an absolute joy for us at the BAAPS to hear that this year, the government will be examining the lax regulations in our sector”.
He added: “We have warned against the unrealistic expectations set by reality ‘makeover’ shows and against crass competition prizes promising ‘mummy makeovers’ and body overhauls.
“In no other area of surgery would one encounter Christmas vouchers and two-for-one offers – the pendulum has swung too far, and it is time for change.”
The Harley Medical Group, which fitted PIP breast implants to almost 14,000 British women, has said it will not replace them free of charge.
Another private company, Transform, has also said it will not replace them.
Surgicare has said it will remove PIP implants for free but any women wanting replacement implants will have to pay £2,500.
Other providers including BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health and Spire have agreed to offer free removal.