A TV ad for MYA Cosmetic Surgery began with text across the screen which stated "MYA - MAKE YOURSELF AMAZING - COSMETIC SURGERY - REMOVE AREAS OF STUBBORN FAT IN 2 HOURS". The ad then featured several testimonees speaking about Vaser liposuction. On-screen text stated "All patients featured are real MYA patients". Statements included: "MYA Vaser Lipo is a modern type of liposuction. The incisions are tiny, the fat gets sucked out and you recover within hours"; "I spent months trying to shift this in the gym and it was done in two hours at MYA"; and "Had my breasts done at MYA, loved them, so had no second thoughts about going back to them for vaser". The final testimonee said "Check out my amazing before and after results at the MYA website now - what would you Vaser?"
A viewer challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and trivialised cosmetic surgery.
MYA Cosmetic Surgery Ltd (MYA) said the statements were truthful and accurate accounts of experience given by former MYA clients. They said the ad was designed to be seen in conjunction with the Vaser Diaries website, which had been set up to provide further information about the Vaser Liposuction process. They said the statement "MYA Vaser Lipo is a modern type of liposuction" was simply descriptive and that "The incisions are tiny, the fat gets sucked out and you recover within hours" was factually accurate. They said the procedure used mild sedation and pain relief, which meant that clients were discharged within 60 minutes of the procedure. They said the statement "I spent months trying to shift this in the gym and it was done in two hours at MYA" was intended to present Vaser as a last alternative for removing stubborn fat. They saw the statement "Had my breasts done at MYA, loved them, so had no second thoughts about going back to them for Vaser" as relating to the customer's loyalty, and the question "What would you Vaser?" as asking the viewer to reflect on what problem areas they would want treating. They said that a client would attend a consultation where full risks of the procedure were explained. If they decided to progress, they would see a nurse and surgeon to further explain the risks and would then have a mandatory 14-day cooling off period before they could have the procedure. They said a client would never be able to make a quick and simple decision to have the procedure.
MYA said Vaser Liposuction was a minimally invasive procedure which, as with every surgical procedure, came with inherent risks. They said they had provided a disclaimer to be shown on-screen which read "Any decision to have cosmetic surgery should not be taken lightly and you should allow yourself plenty of time to reflect before going ahead with a procedure. You will be provided with detailed clinical information in any consultation ahead of surgery but further information can be found at [website address for the resource Cosmetic Surgery Safety, a website sponsored by MYA]" but that Clearcast were satisfied that the disclaimer was not necessary. MYA believed the ad invited viewers to visit MYA's website, but did not encourage them to have the procedure. They believed that, while some might object, people generally did not regard a cosmetic procedure as something that was unacceptable to promote. The ad was subject to scheduling restrictions which prohibited it from being transmitted in or adjacent to children's programmes or programmes likely to appeal to audiences below the age of 18.
Clearcast also disagreed that the testimonials trivialised cosmetic surgery, but believed they gave factual accounts of the process and the results they experienced in colloquial, consumer friendly terms. At no point did the testimonees describe the procedure as an easy choice or as suitable for everyone. They said that, as the BCAP Code allowed for the advertising of cosmetic surgery, the advertising of it could not in itself be seen as prejudicial to health or safety, but that they had approved it for transmission subject to timing restriction (as described above) so that the ad would be kept away from impressionable children, who were not fully aware of the complexity and seriousness of cosmetic surgery procedures. They believed the ad went no further than providing factual descriptions of clients' experiences and did not encourage behaviour that prejudiced health or safety. They said an individual would always need to seek advice from a qualified medical professional before undergoing surgery. Clearcast also supplied a document which compared the surgical and recovery processes for Vaser Liposuction with traditional liposuction.
The ASA noted that one of the testimonees said he had undergone Vaser Liposuction to remove stubborn fat only after failing to achieve it through exercising. While noting the consultation process and cooling off period that would take place, we nevertheless considered that the further statement that the testimonee had had "no second thoughts about going back to MYA" and the question the ad ended with, "What would you Vaser?," suggested that a decision to undergo the procedure was a quick and simple one to make. We also considered that the statement that Vaser Liposuction was a "modern" type of liposuction and which referred to the incisions being "tiny" and to recovery "within hours" emphasised the minimal invasiveness and faster recovery time compared with traditional liposuction, but was not balanced by information about a procedure that would carry risks. Because of that, we considered the overall impression of the ad trivialised cosmetic surgery by not making clear that Vaser Liposuction was a procedure that might carry some of the same risks as traditional liposuction. We concluded, therefore, that the ad was irresponsible and in breach of the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Responsible advertising) and 4.4 4.4 Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety. (Harm and offence).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told MYA Cosmetic Surgery Ltd to ensure their ads gave responsible information and did not trivialise cosmetic surgery.