Lawyers call for ban on advertising cosmetic surgery to u18s

16th Nov 2021

Banning the advertising of cosmetic procedures to children is one of a suite of regulatory actions lawyers are recommending to help keep consumers safe.

“The regulation of cosmetic surgery advertising has not kept pace with the huge growth in the industry and the new advertising opportunities that social media provides,” said Ms Ngaire Watson, barrister and medical law spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA). “Tighter laws need to be put in place urgently to ensure the safety of consumers.”

The ALA today released a comprehensive paper reviewing the regulation of cosmetic surgery advertising and making ten recommendations designed to protect consumers.

“Too often people choose to undergo a cosmetic procedure, and make a decision about which practitioner to use, without all the relevant information - and this needs to change,” said Ms Watson. “Our lawyers are seeing many people who are living with the negative physical and emotional consequences of undergoing cosmetic procedures without having fully understood the risks involved.

“As a start, to protect young people from potential harm the advertising of cosmetic procedures targeting under 18s should be banned. This includes stopping the promotion of cosmetic surgery in programs, magazines and online content that is geared towards under 18s or is likely to appeal to young audiences.

“It must also be mandatory for practitioners to clearly identify their qualifications in their marketing material and state whether or not they are a specialist plastic surgeon.

“It should not take the media exposes of recent weeks to see the enforcement of regulations in the cosmetic surgery industry. The regulator must take a proactive role in monitoring compliance with the current advertising code and ensuring the quick removal of advertising that breaches the guidelines.

“As proposed in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Amendment Bill 2021 we agree that higher financial penalties are required for breaches of the advertising code. These penalties need to be sufficient to act as an effective deterrent.

“It’s critically important that the messages communicated by cosmetic clinics make it clear to people, particularly younger people, that cosmetic procedures by their very nature are risky and can involve complex surgery.”

 “Too many people who seek legal assistance after botched surgery are surprised to find that the ‘cosmetic surgeon’ they have consulted has no recognised surgical qualifications, and the risks and the invasiveness of the procedure were much greater than they understood.

Read the full ALA report - ‘Facing the Facts: The urgent need for further regulation of cosmetic procedures advertising’ - here. This report was developed with the assistance of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Tags: Health, medicine and law Cosmetic Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency