With the holiday season approaching, many are wondering if gifting a cosmetic procedure is appropriate. As the stigma associated with cosmetic surgery has greatly diminished over time with more people talking more openly about a little nip-tuck here or there, gift cards for cosmetic procedures and plastic surgeries are becoming increasingly popular – to the point where cosmetic surgeons note an uptake in appointments during the holiday periods. 

Edwin Williams, president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), says that he mainly sees men buying gifts for women. However, it is not that simple to purchase a gift card for, say, a breast augmentation and to set up a surgery date with a trusted plastic surgeon. 

Most surgeons discourage the practice of gift cards as it tends to trivialise a potentially invasive intervention, shifting the focus from a surgical or medical procedure to a 'dream come true' quick fix. It must be remembered that, although cosmetic surgery is common, it still carries all the risks of surgery. The decision to have a cosmetic procedure is a very individual one and is always ultimately up to the patient and her/his surgeon. Even if a gift of cosmetic surgery has been given, this does not mean that the surgeon is obliged to provide any service. If a surgeon does not believe that the procedure is in the patient's best interest, it is up to that surgeon to tell the patient his/her opinion and provide guidance. Even if the patient is a suitable candidate for a desired procedure, the risks of that procedure must still be reviewed so that the patient is fully aware of them before embarking on any procedure. 

Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: "By making cosmetic surgery a gift, you are downplaying the risk. There is an assumption that a gift is always a good thing but people need to take medical intervention seriously and go through the whole of the education process before committing themselves. Doctors have a responsibility to present cosmetic surgery to their patients as a serious decision not be taken lightly. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons does not allow its members to offer gift cards for certain procedures for this very reason.”