Skip to content

A better outlook on life – Understanding the role of plastic and reconstructive surgery

18 June 2012

In the same sentence, can we really talk about addressing the needs of a physically disfigured soldier and encouraging a 75 year-old woman to have cosmetic surgery? Perhaps we should suspend our judgement over what constitutes dignity and vanity. That’s exactly what Forster did when we chose to work with BAPRAS, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons.

How does the practice of plastic surgery fit in with Forster’s values? Our challenge was that the public image of plastic surgery has been devalued as people think only of cosmetic procedures, yet the vast majority of surgery is actually reconstructive. We’ve been working with BAPRAS since 2005 to change this misperception.

We’ve helped to position BAPRAS as the authoritative industry leader, the ‘voice of reason’. Through strategic media, digital and social media, we’ve raised the profile of plastic surgeons as an essential part of NHS teams and helped the organisation ensure that UK patients have access to world-class surgery from properly qualified surgeons.  Over the last six months, we’ve worked with BAPRAS through the global PIP breast implant crisis, developing clear support and advice for the women involved. BAPRAS experts became media commentators and members of the Government expert panel.

As a society, we’re obsessed with image and body consciousness. More than ever, in a fast-paced, multi-media world, we judge people by their appearance, with pressure for everyone to look glamorous and blemish-free. Yet over one million people in the UK have significant disfigurements to their face, body or hands; from birthmarks and cleft lips to scars from accidents, burns and war injuries to cancer and eye conditions.

We know that effective communication campaigns are critical to helping people with disfigurement gain access to the best treatment available and to overcoming stigma and discrimination that they may face in their day to day lives.  From our work with organisations including the Electrical Safety Council, Bike Week and the London Cycling Campaign, we are also working to reduce the numbers of people having accidents that may cause disfigurement.

Over the next two years, Forster will be working to use our expertise and communications strength to build the confidence of people with physical disfigurement so they can live life to the full.  We’ll start by busting the myths and prejudices that attend physical disfigurement and body image.