In recent times both public opinion as well as health care
professionals flagged intense concern about the increasing trend
among teenagers to undergo breast enhancing surgery for no other
reason than that of surrendering to the psychological pressure
deriving from role model stereotypes.
Over the last years all kind of media, gossip magazines and
sector specific commercial communication have been pushing more and
more to establish unrealistic – not to say
"virtual" – images of female beauty with
fascinating attractiveness which young people (but also their
parents) frequently are unable to resist or have not sufficient
critical sense to oppose to.
According to recent surveys Italy ranks in top position as to
the number of women in Europe undergoing breast enhancing surgery.
Apparently minors of age sum up to a significant percentage of the
group, a fact that increased public debate about the situation and
induced the Italian House to look into the problem and to issue
On July 12th, 2012 Law no. 86 of June
25th, 2012 came into force and established to following
Minors of age (i. e. aged less than 18 years) may undergo
breast implantations for merely aesthetic reasons,
health care professionals falling afoul of the ban will be
sanctioned by a fine of Euro 20.000 as well as become subject to
suspension from their profession for three months,
Breast implantations for merely aesthetical reasons may be
performed exclusively by physicians specifically qualified in
certain areas of surgery,
Special inventories – on a national and on a regional
level – will be established and kept up to date in order
to monitor both, the clinical status of subjects having undergone
this kind of treatment as well as the characteristics and the
effects of implants used (the basic aim is to achieve valuable
information as to: type of implant used, its components, duration
and labelling, collateral effects, potential impact on beast cancer
and other pathologies),
Every two years the Department of Public Health will elaborate
on the data collected and report its conclusions to the Italian
Furthermore on July 5th, 2012 the National Committee
for Bioethics issued additional guidelines on "Bioethical
aspects in aesthetic surgery".
It goes without saying that the new provisions will have
significant impact on commercial communication for implants and
products used to the purpose. Companies producing such products and
professionals performing implantations will need to consider all
the restrictions applying to advertising targeted to – or
capable of reaching – minors. In other terms, media
directed primarily to an audience of minors will be off limits for
such commercial communications. They'll also have to take into
account "protected" broadcasting periods. Finally, from
now on all their claims will be subject to a more accurate scrutiny
as to their misleading potential. In the near future headlines such
as "In less than three weeks breasts you're dreaming
of" will easily steer a local watchdog's
The problem is clearly one of general concern, addressed in
several other jurisdictions in different ways. While the UK is
considering a 'boob tax" meant to hit breast enhancing
implantations with an additional cost of approximately 1.000 GBP,
Belgium and France have taken stricter action and have issued total
bans with respect to advertising of cosmetic surgery.
(as per September 2012)
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