/ 11 January 2007

British doctors condemn plastic surgery lottery

British surgeons have condemned a plastic surgery lottery that offers winners money for face lifts, breast enlargements and tummy tucks. London-based Europa International is running what is thought to be the world’s first lottery for cosmetic surgery.

For the price of a £1,50 ($2,90) SMS or phone call, winners of the monthly draw will receive £6 000 towards the cost of the surgery of their choice.

John Babbage, the co-founder of Europa International, said it is not much different from reality television shows that offer cosmetic surgery to contestants.

But British plastic surgeons described Europa International’s cosmetic surgery superdraw as an unscrupulous marketing gimmick and warned patients they could be putting themselves at risk.

”I am appalled at this new scheme but unfortunately not surprised,” said Douglas McGeorge, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps).

”Cosmetic surgery can have a major impact on people’s lives and make them feel very good about themselves. But it has to be thought out and the limitations and complications of any procedure have to be considered before rushing in,” he told Reuters.

The association is concerned about what it sees as the hype-filled process involved in the lottery and the lack of counselling. The winner of the draw will be randomly selected and meet directors of the company before being flown to Prague in the Czech Republic for the surgery.

Millions of cosmetic surgery procedures ranging from lip augmentation and cheek implants to nose jobs and brow lifts are performed worldwide each year. Breast enlargement and liposuction are among the most popular.

Some clinics have offered gift vouchers for cosmetic surgery but McGeorge said this is the first lottery he has heard of.

Europa, which was founded 11 years ago, is the marketing arm for cosmetic surgery clinics in Prague. The company has arranged surgery and accommodation for thousands of clients, according to Babbage. About 90% of its clients are British.

Babbage dismissed criticism of the lottery, telling Reuters the winner will be dealt with in the same way as any other client. Each participant entering the lottery fills in a medical questionnaire. – Reuters