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Press Release: 08 - 10 - 2002

Health Which? reveals the ugly side of cosmetic surgery


Face of a Face
Face of a Face
Klee, Paul
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An investigation by Consumers' Association's magazine Health Which? today (8 October 2023) into private cosmetic surgery has found clinics agreeing to unsuitable surgery and failing to provide adequate information about the risks involved.

It is estimated around 65,000 to 75,000 cosmetic surgery procedures are carried out each year in the UK. However, no one knows who carries them out or how good the outcomes are.

Health Which? sent two actors with hidden recording equipment to 21 appointments at private cosmetic surgery clinics. Three highly experienced surgeons gave their verdicts on the visits. We found:

1)discounts offered if patients agree to more than one procedure;

2)surgeons were often vague about their expertise;

3)unqualified "patient co-ordinators" conducting consultations;

4)poor standards of medical history taking by many surgeons;

5)some surgeons skirting over the potential risks of surgery;

6)wrong information being given out by a number of clinics.

Our investigation also found surgeons prepared to perform unsuitable cosmetic procedures. For example, one actor inquired about surgery to reduce the size of his nose (rhinoplasty). One of our expert panel of surgeons, with 30 years experience in rhinoplasty, confirmed the actors nose was well proportioned with his face and he did not need cosmetic surgery.


Only two of the clinics investigated turned our actor away as unsuitable. The other eight found different reasons why surgery was appropriate.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, together with other surgical organisations, says the public is still at risk from unqualified practitioners, despite a new system of regulation for private health care introduced by the Department of Health.

No recognised standard of training for cosmetic surgery exist, though it is hoped with the establishment of the Cosmetic Surgery Interspeciality Committee this will change.

Health Which? also examined the worrying trend of companies offering surgery abroad. Researchers examined deals offering surgery in Poland, South Africa and Cyprus.

Numerous potential problems were identified, including: not meeting the surgeon until arrival, "exclusion of liability" clauses, and the lack of comprehensive aftercare.

Health Which? is calling for a single register of approved cosmetic surgeons and for the role of "patient co-ordinators" to be restricted - they should not be providing explanations of procedures, the risks or taking medical histories.

Sue Freeman, Managing Editor of Health Which?, said: "Cosmetic surgery remains a bit of a lottery. Patients need clear information about the risks involved and the qualifications of those carrying out operations. Our investigation showed this was severely lacking in many cases" recommends the following books from


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Awakening BeautyAnthony Napoleon, the author of Awakening Beauty: An Illustrated Look at Mankind's Love and Hatred of Beauty, is a psychologist who has spent many years studying beauty and its impact upon both individuals and society. He has worked with both cosmetic surgery patients and beauty pageant contestants as well as conducting original research into the field. Awakening Beauty is an unprecedented exposé on the subject of beauty. It is both entertaining and thought provoking, a combination that is as unique as it is telling about the author's approach to the subject of this book. The reader is taken backstage into the worlds of beauty pageants, plastic surgery, trophy wives, murderous rage, wardrobe, makeup, Bill Clinton, the events of September Eleven and other provocative topics where beauty has had its effect. Awakening Beauty invites the reader into a world that is as interesting as it is frightening. Readers are transformed as the author shepherds them from their world into his unique perspective and expertise on beauty. Awakening Beauty includes over one hundred tantalizing photographs and illustrations. Awakening Beauty is a compendium of some of the most interesting facts in print. The subject matter of the book along with the author's unique approach to it makes this book a "must read." Get ready to re-think everything you thought you knew about beautiful women and physical attractiveness.

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