I HAVE JUST READ AN ARTICLE ABOUT COSMETIC SURGERY ADVERTISING.
These sorts of articles come up quite regularly and they follow a common theme.
It’s usually a beautiful young woman often with a high profile on Instagram or YouTube who goes abroad to have cosmetic surgery and ends up with a terrifying complication and sometimes even death.
The article talks about how plastic surgeons are promoting themselves on social media and portraying a glossy unrealistic image targeting vulnerable people.
As a layperson reading this I completely understand and would support the call to stop cosmetic surgery being advertised because it appears unethical and unsafe.
However, as a plastic surgeon who has profiles on Instagram and YouTube, I feel no connection between the way ‘advertising’ is being portrayed in the news article and what I and many of my colleagues are doing.
The way I see it is that we are in a better informed world now and people want to know and be engaged with their treatment a lot more closely than they ever used to be.
The role of the paternalistic doctor who knows best is less relevant today. People have no problem in questioning those in authority and expect decisions that are made about them to be open for debate and critique.
My reason for engaging in social media is two-fold:
- I want people to know that I exist
- I want people to know what services I offer and what they can reasonably expect from having surgery
The portrayal in the media is that plastic surgeons are promising unrealistic results and stifling negative reviews.
It may be that some people are doing this, but we should not focus on these.
I am sure there are unscrupulous doctors, just like there are unscrupulous shopkeepers or accountants or car mechanics.
…but by and large, most people are trying to do a good job and are not trying to hurt people.
Not only is it bad practice to over-promise and under-deliver, but it is also a very bad way to run a business.
IF ANYTHING, I WOULD PREFER TO UNDER-PROMISE AND OVER-DELIVER.
I engage with people in my Live Q&A every Tuesday night where I am always keen to get across the message that it is not always easy to get things right. No matter how good a surgeon is, we will all get complications, despite our very best efforts to make every result perfect.
So, when it comes to whether we should be advertising, I guess it depends on what you mean by advertising.
If it is airbrushed images and buy now, pay later deals – then I think we can do without these.
…but if it is information about the different types of breast implants and their pros and cons, or what changes to look for in your mole, then I think that this is helpful to prospective patients rather than harmful.
I DON’T THINK ADVERTISING SHOULD BE BANNED BUT I DO THINK WE SHOULD PROTECT VULNERABLE PEOPLE FROM UNSCRUPULOUS INDIVIDUALS WHO MAY TRY TO ENCOURAGE OR COERCE THEM TO HAVE SURGERY.
It is the same for cowboy builders or cryptocurrency scams. I don’t think all advertising for builders or bitcoin need to be banned, just those that are unethical or misleading.
It is up to those of us that have scruples to promote good medical practice and inform people of the pros and cons of having a treatment so that we can help them to make a balanced decision.
…rather than giving a rose-tinted view to encourage or entice.
‘ADVERTISING’ HAS BEEN GIVEN A BAD NAME BUT I DO NOT THINK THAT IT SHOULD BE DISCOURAGED.
From the peddler in ancient times who would hang up a sign outside his shop to the glitzy light shows of the Super Bowl half-time.
The aim is to let people know that you exist and what you can do for them.
When the NHS run a campaign to encourage people to see their GP if they have a persistent cough, or if there is blood in their urine, they are advertising their services.
Unethical and misleading advertising should be banned, whether it is for cosmetic surgery or anything else.
I encourage doctors to advertise their services by engaging with patients, keeping in touch and providing information.
If you feel that you can help people, then it is only right that you let them know.
As far as I’m concerned, the more of us that try to promote our services, the better. If you would like help, let me know!