Watchdog takes down ‘mummy makeover’ ads in crackdown against hundreds of cosmetic surgery clinics

Watchdog takes down ‘mummy makeover’ ads in crackdown against hundreds of cosmetic surgery clinics

The UK advertising watchdog has had to take down hundreds of adverts for cosmetic surgery clinics abroad and weight-loss jabs as dangerous ads target “mummy makeovers”, The Independent has been told.

The Advertising Standards Authourity is also taking down 100 unsafe or misleading adverts a day for prescription-only medicines, with the majority of action taken against promotions for Botox and weight-loss jabs.

The authority said it has been forced to take down hundreds of cosmetic surgery adverts since February this year, following a crackdown on clinics abroad attempting to attract UK patients.

Jessica Tye, investigations operations manager for ASA told The Independent: “They’re running adverts for cosmetic surgery abroad, mostly for clinics in Turkey, but not exclusively … Instagram and Facebook seem to be a big space for clinics to use, to attract people.”

She said the clinics were: “Using claims or images that would exploit people’s body insecurities, things like talking about mummy makeovers, which is like a package of surgery involving, breast surgery and liposuction.

“It’s a really serious operation, so it’s really important that ads for these clinics are not encouraging people to rush into a decision.”

Ms Tye explained problems included adverts’ reference to “promotional offers” and incentives to “act now, so you save money”.

“That’s not acceptable when people need to be given time and space to really think about whether this is the right thing for them.”

Advertisers were also using “light-hearted emojis and wording” to imply procedures are “basically, a holiday with some surgery”, she said.

In another example, the ASA said it took action against an influencer on TikTok who was speaking about cosmetic surgery but had not taken action to limit the age of those who could see the post.

Last week doctors at the British Medical Association annual general warned the NHS is being left to “pick up the pieces” as a result of complications linked to a rise in surgical tourism.

Last month NHS medical director Stephen Powis also warned patients were taking weight-loss jabs to get “beach-body ready”.

The new AI tool used by the ASA can scan thousands of online adverts and as a result, the watchdog has been able to take action against 100 adverts a day over promoting prescription-only drugs.

“We take this incredibly seriously, although our remit is advertising, we know that there is a real concern from others about the harm that can come to people through taking these products.”

“If you’re advertising a consultation, that’s acceptable, but it’s really not acceptable to be advertising a weight loss jab.”

Last week the ASA took action against adverts with misleading claims over supplements which they alleged could help menopause symptoms as part of its project on prescription medicine promos.

The ASA is also investigating adverts which appear on children’s websites, it revealed.