National

Japan plans to ban before-and-after photos in ads for cosmetic surgery

JIJI

The health ministry will prohibit medical institutions from using before-and-after photos of patients in cosmetic-surgery advertisements, sources said Wednesday.

The plan follows a series of consumer problems stemming from advertising for aesthetic medical services, including minor cosmetic surgery and liposuction.

Before-and-after images will be allowed for academic meetings will because such use does not encourage potential patients to elect such procedures, according to the sources.

The ministry will put the ban into effect by June.

The country’s medical law bans false and misleading advertising, but it is difficult to determine whether photos taken before and after cosmetic procedures have been manipulated.

The plan for the ban came after the ministry’s expert panel discussed issues involving before-and-after images at the request of the Cabinet Office’s Consumer Commission, which called for reviews of ad regulations.

At a meeting on Wednesday, a majority of panel members took the position that the use of such photos in advertising should be widely regulated.

One panel member opposed the new ban, voicing concerns that it would only withhold information from patients, and the net result would not necessarily be a benefit to the consumer.

But another panel member from a consumer group said that such photos on websites created problems.

The prohibition is aimed at regulating medical institutions that use the photos in advertising to lure customers without offering a full picture on the risks, a different member said, noting that the measure would not hamper clinics from providing additional necessary information during consultations.