Gary Ross, the first in his field to be certified by the Royal College of Surgeons Professional Standards system, says the whole industry needs tighter regulation.
He says vulnerable people – driven by adverts and social media – are being offered unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved when they go under the knife.
‘Advertisements and social media are altering our perception of reality and people come in for consultations with unrealistic expectations’, he says.
‘We have started to see changes in the fashion industry but advertising is a lot slower to act.
‘For instance, we knew cigarettes were bad for you but it took decades before adverts were banned, so I think it will be a long time before patients’ interests are put before profits.’
His comments came after he supported dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto who posted an angry tweet when she saw an advert promoting a body sculpting treatment.
The advert showed a very slim woman pulling a small section of skin of her washboard flat tummy with the strapline: ‘If you can pinch it we can treat it’.
Dr Mahto, based in London, posted: ‘She does NOT need body contouring. No wonder so many young girls and women have body confidence issues. Shameful advertising.’
Mr Ross, who operates at the BMI Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle, Cheshire, agrees.
He wants an outright ban on all adverts that fuel body hatred and encourage people to undergo expensive and unnecessary treatments.
‘People are led to believe they can achieve changes which are not possible through these kind of images,’ he said.
Guidelines by the General Medical Council state cosmetic surgeons must market their services responsibly with advertising clear and factual. The guidance also stats surgeons “must not use promotional tactics that could encourage patients to make ill-considered decisions.”
Mr Ross, who is a member of The British Association of Aesthetics Plastic Surgeons and the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, also believes surgeons should be more aware of how vulnerable some people are and offer more consultations before surgery is carried out.
The practice of some surgeries who offer discounts or other special offers to tempt people into having surgery done also meets with his disapproval.
Mr Ross, an expert in so-called ‘mum tum’ abdominoplasty procedures and innovative fat-transfer breast augmentation operations, says the industry needs to have more regulation to stop it being regarded as the “Wild West’ of medicine.
And he sees the RCS certification scheme as the way forward.
He added: ‘A patient needs to have the utmost trust in the medical practitioner helping them.
‘In an industry becoming increasingly tarnished by the actions of those who place profit above patient wellbeing, safeguards and checks to protect the vulnerable have never been more important.
‘For me personally, it is an honour to be the first surgeon to have certified in cosmetic surgery through the RCS process, and I see this as a significant advance in patient care that will improve the reputation of the profession for years to come.
‘Every cosmetic surgeon should certify through the RCS – and that this should become mandatory – to safeguard patients form both physical and psychological harm.’