Plastikkirurg1, a Bergen-based clinic offering a wide range of appearance-enhancing operations, including breast augmentation, fat suction and face lifts, has released an apology for using Instagram to approach underage girls, which triggered the ire of the Norwegian public earlier this year.
"Sorry, we have used Instagram unfortunately and with little discretion. In particular, we apologize to those who have received comments on social media directly from Plastikkirug1," general manager Tom Inge Ørner wrote.
One of the girls who received unwanted attention from them was only 14 years old, which sparked indignation over the surgeons' routines.
"Plastikkirurg1, two doctors in Bergen who boast of all the tits they have operated on, have chosen to 'like' a picture of my daughters on Instagram. How many girls get such ‘likes' and what message does it send? Maybe it's creative marketing, but what about medical ethics?" Geir Bråthen, a neurologist at Saint Olav's clinic in Trondheim, tweeted.
Plastikkirurg1, to leger i Bergen som skryter av alle puppene de har operert, har valgt å "like" et bilde av mine døtre på Instagram. Hvor mange jenter får slike "likes", og hvilket budskap sender det? Muligens kreativ markedsføring, men hvor ble legeetikken av? @legeforeningen pic.twitter.com/oUfNdxuOPJ— Geir Bråthen (@nevrologeir) June 23, 2018
"I believe it's embarrassing for us who try to run a serious business; one should not behave like this. I think those who have done this must shape up and read the legislation," Pål Schistad, a surgeon and co-owner of Fornebuklinikken, one of Norway's largest plastic surgery clinics, said, as quoted by the daily newspaper Aftenposten.
Elisabeth Lier Haugseth, the director of the Norwegian Consumer Safety Authority, also reacted strongly to the matter, condemning marketing practices that took full advantage of the precarious self-image of adolescent girls.
Ørner explained that the company had taken advantage of external actors in managing social media accounts. According to him, automated comments were used in order to increase the visibility of the company's Instagram account. Ørner explained that action was taken immediately after being notified of the unwanted attention.
In addition to its Instagram activity, Plastikkirurg1 was also criticized by the Council of Medical Ethics for the wording used on its website. In particular, council head Svein Aarseth slammed the clinic for "body pressure" and "appearance pressure" when it said that most people seeking cosmetic surgery strive to become "normal." Ørner admitted that the clinic is familiar with this criticism is now in the process of reviewing their webpage to ensure that all formulations are ethically correct.