New laws should ensure anyone seeking cosmetic surgery is offered counselling before they undergo procedures.
Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, said “aggressive” marketing techniques should be banned – and said the way some cosmetic sugery firms behaved was “more appropriate for selling double glazing”.
He told the House of Commons: “We have here a classic example of the market not only failing but being used to exploit people, which is ruining their lives and costing the NHS millions of pounds a year.”
Mr Jones was speaking in the House of Commons to propose new laws to make cosmetic surgery safer.
The proposed legislation would ensure people carrying out cosmetic surgery are properly trained, establish a code to ensure patients are properly informed about any risks, and set out what sort of treatment can be offered.
And he told MPs that he “became aware of the scandal around the £3.5 billion-a-year cosmetic surgery industry” through a constituent who had surgery which left her unable to close her eyes.
To this day she needs to apply special eye-drops every two hours to stop them drying out, Mr Jones said.
But the NHS was now having “to pick up the bill” for her care, the MP said.
peaking in the Commons, the North Durham MP said: “The whole thrust of the advertising is to sell such procedures without any counselling or advice on whether it is appropriate for an individual to undergo them.
“Individuals who have already undergone surgery are often bombarded with more adverts, by email or on Facebook, despite the fact that that practice has been reported to the Advertising Standards Agency.
“Such aggressive marketing needs to be banned and a mandatory cooling-off period introduced once people have signed up to allow them to change their minds.
“I would go further and include mandatory counselling for individuals before they undertake any such procedure.”
In his opening remarks, Mr Jones said the Royal College of Surgeons wants only surgeons with “appropriate skills and experience” to undertake cosmetic surgery.
He told MPs: “At present, cosmetic surgery is not a defined surgical speciality in its own right.
“As the department of health has noted, the training within certain defined specialities such as plastic surgery, ear, nose and throat surgery and eye surgery includes an aspect of cosmetic training, but no qualification is available for those who perform cosmetic surgery.
“In fact, the law allows any qualified doctor – they need not even be a surgeon – to perform cosmetic surgery without undertaking additional training or qualifications.
“My Bill aims to close this loophole. It has the support of the Royal College of Surgeons.”
Mr Jones’s Bill is backed by a group of Labour and Tory MPs including Northumberland MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
He asked for it to receive a second reading on March 24 2017, although it is highly unlikely to become law without Government support or sufficient Parliamentary time.