Cosmetic Breast Surgery Review Attacks Overselling

Following the PIP breast implant scandal, a massive industry review has been carried out.

The results of a public consultation on cosmetic surgery are now in and the message is loud and clear - hard selling techniques are not getting the desired results, neither for patients nor providers.

These findings will form the basis of a final report to be complied by Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS medical director, in March 2013.

The outcome is very simple – cosmetic surgeries such as breast implants are serious procedures which should not be sold like beauty products – or in the word of the report, as "a commodity".

After the PIP scandal, in which implants were filled with substandard silicone which then leaked, there has been soul-searching about whether enough regulation goes into products used in cosmetic surgery. Also under the microscope is the care given to patients during and after treatment.

The consultation summary stated:"The proliferation of advertising for cosmetic breast surgery and its use in TV make-over programmes was felt to trivialise surgery and its risks, while making excessive claims of its impact on people's emotional wellbeing."

A perfect example of the wrong way to sell breast implant surgery was given on the BBC website. Sabrina Elliott decided to have breast surgery aged 23, following childbirth. She says that a lifetime guarantee on the procedure was conditional on making her mind up within 48 hours. This led her to feel unduly pressured into making the decision. The firm which did her operation went into liquidation two years later. Sabrina was one of the unlucky women to have dodgy PIP implants and now experiences pain every day.

Some respondents to the consultation said that patients should be given photos of expected bruising, as well as detail on the risks associated with surgery. Above all, the cosmetic surgery consultation should be done with the actual surgeon who would be operating, rather than a sales advisor.