Editor's Choice

Promoting cosmetic surgery

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7535 (Published 08 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7535

Re: Promoting cosmetic surgery

I read with great interest your Editor’s Choice Corner in the BMJ entitled “Promoting Cosmetic Surgery” and I welcome the opportunity to correct some of the misapprehensions which it contains.

Professor Ostrzenski was not personally invited by FIGO to present his work during the triennial FIGO World Congress. He was “invited” only in the universal sense that all members of the gynaecological and obstetrics communities were invited to respond to the Call for Submissions issued by the Scientific Committee in preparation for FIGO’s 2012 World Congress. Professor Ostrzenski, with many others, submitted a request to organise a session. His request was reviewed by the Congress Scientific Programme Committee and agreed.

FIGO organised another session on the same issue, with presenters who had no commercial interests in cosmetic surgery, in order to ensure that participants could take part in a balanced scientific and ethical debate on the subject

The considerable importance of this topic to the international community of gynaecologists is attested by the overwhelming interest in these sessions, both of which were attended by capacity audiences. There was no “subsequent outcry” as you allege.

You mention that the BMJ ‘has form on this topic’ and cite the work of Lih Mei Lao and Sarah Creighton. Both of these individuals were invited to participate in the FIGO session but declined to do so.

Inclusion in the FIGO Congress Scientific Programme does not imply that FIGO supports the views of the speakers in the session. This was clearly indicated on the FIGO website before the Congress and on the front page of the programme book.

Furthermore, in Rome – before the session of Professor Ostrzenski was held – FIGO issued the following statement signed by the FIGO President, Chair of the FIGO Committee for the Ethical Aspects of Human Reproduction and Women's Health and Chair of the international Scientific Programme Committee:

“The FIGO Congress is intended to encourage presentations of all views and practices of concern to practitioners in gynaecology and obstetrics.

All practitioners have been invited to offer presentations of their personal views and practices, including any that may be controversial. Acceptance of relevant presentations does not constitute FIGO endorsement, except for those specifically presented on behalf of FIGO. In the spirit of professional and academic freedom, FIGO neither suppresses nor endorses any presentations, except those specifically identified as those adopted by FIGO.

Each Congress session identifies by which organisation or person it was organised. Only the named organisers are responsible for the content of their sessions.”

This statement was circulated to the mass media and participants in the meeting. It was also placed on the FIGO Website. You can visit it at http://www.figo.org.

I reaffirm that FIGO’s mission is to promote the well-being of women and to raise standards of practice in obstetrics & gynaecology. FIGO will continue its efforts against any form of violation of human rights of girls and women and works very closely with other global organisations to help to eliminate it.

Female cosmetic gynaecological surgery is indeed a controversial topic and one that should not be ignored by FIGO. We have therefore requested the FIGO Ethics Committee to study the subject in depth so that appropriate guidance can be provided for gynaecologists throughout the world.

Competing interests: No competing interests

14 November 2012
Gamal Serour
Immediate Past-President - International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics
International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics ("FIGO")
Suite 3 - Waterloo Court, 10 Theed Street, London SE1 8ST