Demand for cosmetic surgery in the United Kingdom has shot up during Covid-19 lockdowns. People attending online meetings week after week are becoming distressed about their appearance.
A long feature in Esquire – not normally a treasure trove of bioethics information – says that “Meetings are conducted over video calls in which we spend the duration assessing the little window of our flaws, every blemish and hint of a receding hairline, while Laura’s connection drops in and out and Martin’s cat climbs onto his keyboard. In our harshly lit bedrooms, kitchens and home offices, insecurities and facial dislikes are laid bare.”
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has warned that unscrupulous cosmetic surgery providers are cashing in on a post-pandemic “Zoom boom” by coercing vulnerable patients into panic buying procedures.
“People couldn’t go on holiday, they couldn’t do much, really,” says London plastic surgeon Patrick Mallucci. “So, many instead decided to spend that money on themselves. To treat something.”
The association, which reported seeing a “massive upswing” of 100% in demand for virtual consultations during lockdown, has issued Triple Lock Guidelines to help safeguard patients in these challenging times. However the BAAPS has been extremely concerned to find that some cosmetic surgery clinics are not following safety guidelines.
In a survey of 20 non-BAAPS cosmetic surgery clinics, 75% did not insist on a face to face consult with an adequate cooling off period and 85% did not insist on a cooling off period at all, despite this being a mandatory requirement of good medical practice by the GMC. Concerningly, some clinics even advocated no face to face with a surgeon before surgery.
The association is cautioning the public not to fall prey to unethical tactics and marketing deals luring them to “panic buy”, as they do not give them the required “cooling off” period of at least 14 days between a face-to-face consultation and the procedure being done.
BAAPS president Mary O’Brien said that the “reality of surgery and aftercare that should not be lost in a virtual world. It's about delivering real care to real people to improve psychological and physical wellbeing. Surgery is not a pandemic pick me up."
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
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