London Bridge Plastic Surgery were disappointed to see in the news this week a proposed attempt to place taxation on cosmetic surgery – this is something we feel blurs the boundaries even further for what is acceptable in a much maligned and misunderstood industry.

It’s important to remember that the cosmetic surgery industry is part of the healthcare sector, and plays a vitally important part in the wellbeing, both physically and emotionally, of many thousands of people annually in the UK.

The attempt to impose this tax is damaging, on many levels.

Firstly, there is the potential for cosmetic surgery to be seen as frivolous rather than essential surgery. Many members of the public already have a perception of cosmetic procedures as superficial – which is rarely the case, in our experience.

It will also, if passed, prove to be an ethical nightmare for the Inland Revenue to attempt to collect this tax – inspectors, for example, would have to make a judgement call on what constitutes surgery for a medical reason or not.

For example, is hair removal for a female patient with PCOS not subject to VAT, but a female patient with excessive facial hair is liable to VAT? The lines are difficult to define and even harder to define for taxable purposes.

Another area of major interpretation is under the definition of what ‘Health’ actually means.

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing – not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Thus, any treatment which supports the physical, mental and social wellbeing being is (by definition) supporting health. Crucially, the inland Revenue is already benefitting greatly from the Cosmetic Surgery industry, by utlilising increased taxation on revenues from clinics, doctors, suppliers and manufacturers.

This proposed tax levy will, we think, make UK Cosmetic Surgery uncompetitive – pushing more potential patients to look for cheaper plastic surgery overseas and possibly receive a lower level of patient care.