Channel 4 launched its new series this week focusing on ‘The Ugly Face of Beauty’. Fronted by well known ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ and ‘Supersize versus Superskinny’ presenter Dr. Christian Jessen, the series takes a look at the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery in the UK.
The show aims to highlight the key areas that the public need to consider when thinking about or actually undertaking cosmetic surgery procedures. It also highlights cases of botched operations, which have occurred both in the UK and abroad and uses them to emphasise the need to seek out qualified and experienced surgeons, instead of simply focussing on the cost. All the ‘victims’ shown then receive corrective surgery from a team of surgeons featured on the show, including members of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), who discuss what went wrong in each case.
The first episode, screened on 13th July, looked at breast augmentation, the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in the UK, and highlighted what could go wrong when the incorrect size and type of implant is used by a surgeon. Further episodes will look at tummy tucks, liposuction and face lifts and the issues of infection and nerve damage.
Most interesting in the first episode was the exposé (similar to that carried out by Which? magazine in January 2008) which showed how some cosmetic surgery clinics are still prepared to pressure consumers into having cosmetic surgery via hard sell tactics and limited timed discounts or special offers, many of which proved to still be being used months after the reporter was told they would expire. In the programme, writer Andrea Thompson went undercover in Harley Street to see how far clinics would go to sell her a breast augmentation, something Dr. Jessen was of the opinion she did not need at all.
More shocking, and to prove just how easy it is for clinics to use special offers, attractive deals and clever sales patter to hook in ill-informed patients, Dr. Jessen and his team set up an experiment using a fake walk-in clinic in the centre of Southend, Essex. The ‘clinic’ used pretty PR girls with offers of champagne and a ‘consultation’ set-up with fake patient counsellors, a method often used within the industry, before a patient even sees a surgeon.
Many of those visiting the fake clinic were happy to go along with the offer of cosmetic surgery packages, including overnight stays in a spa hotel without asking any pertinent questions about the procedures themselves or the surgeon who would be performing the operation.
As well as many happily signing forms, one woman even went as far as handing over money to secure her nose job procedure with little knowledge of what was involved or who would be doing it. When approached by Dr. Jessen and told that the clinic was a fake she looked visibly upset and said “I’m so disappointed.” On asking her why, she told Christian “...because I was getting all excited that I’m going to look beautiful”. This shows how such pushy sales techniques clearly do work on vulnerable people who simply need an injection of self-esteem and some time to mull things over. She later admitted to being cross with herself for not really thinking it through properly before being prepared to sign-up.
The results of the experiment visibly shocked Dr. Jessen and truly highlight the further need for both the wider media and sites like The Consulting Room™ to educate the public about what’s involved in surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures and how to go about getting the results they want from a qualified and experienced medical professional.
The Ugly Face of Beauty is on Channel 4 at 8pm on Tuesdays. For more information on cosmetic surgery procedures, including what to expect, recovery times and possible complications, please see our Treatment FAQs.