How To Market Plastic Surgery Responsibly
There are various rules and regulations that govern plastic surgery advertisement on social and mainstream media. These regulations vary in stringency amongst various countries and platforms. However, the ethical and professional standards that direct the conduct of a responsible plastic surgeon are expected to be universally the same.
My role as a plastic surgeon is, above all, to educate patients. I gauge their expectations and equip them with the relevant knowledge regarding the benefits of surgery, the recovery process, as well as the side effects, risks and complications; in order to make their own informed decision.
“Every single person is perfect the way they are. Many want plastic surgery, some are lucky to have it, but very rare are those who actually ‘need’ it”
People may seek cosmetic procedures for a large variety of reasons. I split them into 4 groups:
Group 1: are those who have a specific aesthetic issue (saggy skin, small breasts, prominent ears, large fat deposits, flat buttocks…etc) that affects important aspects of their lives such as clothing, confidence, some activities (career, holiday, sports, swimming), intimacy and/or relationships. These are good candidates for plastic surgery because we know that fixing that issue is likely to improve the quality of their lives. These patients have been suffering from that problem for some time and are probably already thinking about having them fixed. They don’t need someone to tell them “get your problem fixed”, that’s insulting, a plastic surgeon may say, “it’s me you want to see for advice”.
Group 2: are some people who have a degree of body dysmorphia. They obsess about minor “issues” in their bodies that they perceive as major abnormalities. Their quality of life might be affected due to their perception of that issue. We know that this group of people will not benefit from surgery because their obsession will persist or shift to other parts of their body. They should be advised against having plastic surgery and, instead, should be offered psychological help.
Group 3: are those patients who seek plastic surgery to please a partner or to follow a social trend. Their quality of life is not affected, but they feel compelled to conform to some standards and trends. These patients are often very young, immature and vulnerable. They should be consulted very attentively and given all the unbiased information about short-term and long-term benefits and all the risks, so they can make a fully informed decision.
- Group 4: are the majority of people who never had (or noticed) any issues or problems with their shape and never considered plastic surgery.
Is it acceptable to hard-sell plastic and cosmetic surgery, and why?
A responsible professional plastic surgery advertising campaign might offer help and advice but should not ” sell” procedures.
Hard selling is counterproductive because it will:
- insult and distance group 1
- attract groups 2 and 3, which are not good candidates for surgery.
Selling cosmetic surgery is also unethical because it:
- exploits the vulnerability of groups 2 and 3
- puts pressure on group 4, who never had any problems, and can potentially shift the vulnerable ones of them to group 2 or 3.
Therefore, selling plastic surgery should be avoided because it is both unethical and counterproductive.