Save Face launches petition to protect young patients from seeking cosmetic surgery

02 Apr 2019

Independent accreditation body Save Face has launched a petition with Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors to protect young and vulnerable patients against the impact of social media on motivations to seek cosmetic surgery.

Their aim is to encourage the UK government to require social media platform Instagram to do more to protect young people from content which may ‘undermine their self-esteem and stimulate interest in surgical procedures’.

The petition follows a survey from Save Face and Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors that discovered 23% of people who see images that promote or demonstrate the effects of cosmetic surgery and cosmetic procedures feel more negatively about their own appearance as a result.

Save Face has also confirmed that the figure dramatically increased in correlation to how young the survey participant was. It was reported that 38% of 21 to 25-year-olds and 36% of 26 to 30-year-olds stated that these images had a negative influence on them, compared to 16% of 45 to 49-year-olds and 13% of 50 to 54-year-olds.

A report released by the Royal Society for Public Health in 2017, titled the #StatusofMind report, found that of the top five social media platforms, Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s mental health.

Michael Saul, partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, said, “Our goal is to protect and support young people on Instagram so they can make a more informed decision, should they wish to undergo a cosmetic procedure later in life. In our petition with Save Face, we suggest ways in which Instagram could help to protect young people, including the introduction of an age restriction of 21 on content from verified accounts that specifically advertise, feature or demonstrate the effects of cosmetic surgery and procedures.”

He continued, “Alternatively, account holders could place a sensitive content warning over their images, which can only be lifted by users who are aged 21 and over, or voluntarily use a hashtag such as #CosmeticFilter to let users know that the content they are posting advertises, features or demonstrates the effects of cosmetic surgery and procedures.”

Ashton Collins, director of Save Face, added, “It is extremely important that social media companies take all necessary measures to protect young, impressionable people from being targeted by posts that prey on insecurities and set unrealistic and distorted expectations. These platforms are a hotbed for rogue practitioners, and patients are often drawn in by cheap deals and celebrity affiliations. We have seen first-hand the impact these posts have as last year we received 934 patient complaints, of which 579 found their practitioner on social media.” 

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