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Advertising for cosmetic surgery on the Internet?

In a lawsuit against two doctors, the Wettbewerbszentrale wants to clarify whether and to what extent advertising for cosmetic surgery to young people is permitted. It objected to the corresponding advertising in May 2019 and filed an action with the Frankfurt Regional Court (Case No. 2-06 O 360/19) in August. There has not yet been a date for the oral hearing before the Regional Court.

The two physicians run a practice for aesthetic plastic surgery in Hesse. Under the heading “Young Aesthetics” they advertised breast augmentation and lip sculpting for young women:

“Tingling moments, sizzling eroticism and an extraordinary charisma: Being consciously feminine is simply exciting. Plump breasts and sensual lips play a major role and are considered pure seduction in the selfie, Instagram and co – age. It’s not for nothing that Kylie Jenner, the sister of Kim Kardashian, has had her lips injected since the tender age of 17. You too can play with your charms …”

so it was said literally in the Internet appearance of the two physicians. The advertisement ended with a reference to “0.0% financing.”

Violation of medical professional duties

The Wettbewerbszentrale based its action on, among other things, a violation of professional regulations. The professional code of conduct for physicians in Hesse prohibits advertising that is contrary to the profession. This includes advertising that is laudatory or misleading in terms of content and form. In the opinion of the Wettbewerbszentrale, this includes any advertising that presents cosmetic surgery that is not medically indicated as a lifestyle product for young women. Young women are given the impression that breast augmentation or lip modeling is perfectly normal in order to look as advantageous as possible on social media. At the same time, in the opinion of the Wettbewerbszentrale, this constitutes a violation of the prohibition of misleading statements under competition law, as the operations are trivialized.

The other party argued before the court that it was not precluded from addressing a young audience as its own “market target group”. In addition, before the procedures, there is a very detailed explanation that meets the requirements of an aesthetic operation.

According to an announcement on Oct. 16, 2019, German Health Minister Spahn wants to have advertising for cosmetic surgery banned that is aimed exclusively or predominantly at young people. According to the BMG’s statement, the new regulation is to be attached to the planned “Measles Protection Act” as an amendment in the parliamentary procedure.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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