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Health ministry to ban before-and-after photos for cosmetic medical procedure ads

(Mainichi)

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is set to ban medical institutions from carrying before-and-after photos of cosmetic procedures on their websites, ministry officials said.

    The move follows a series of consumer complaints involving cosmetic medical procedure ads, and enforcement is set to start by June next year. The ministry on Oct. 25 referred the plan to a panel of experts, which approved it.

    Medical institution websites are recognized as advertisements just like signboards and television commercials under the revised Medical Care Act, enacted in June this year. The law is set to come into force in June next year, under which the publication of false or exaggerated information on such websites will be banned. Violators could face criminal punishment.

    Considering the characteristics of websites, which users search for and read online, the ministry intends to permit the owners of cosmetic medicine websites to display explanations of cosmetic procedure outcomes -- banned for signboards and TV commercials -- under certain conditions.

    However, the ministry will enforce regulations to ban medical institutions from posting before-and-after pictures on their websites, on the grounds that customers could misunderstand that the procedures are effective for everybody. The ban will also apply to photos that have not been modified. However, the ministry will allow academic societies to post such photos on their websites, as they are not advertising any specific medical institution.

    Medical information websites sponsored by medical institutions, and medical institutions' social media accounts will also be subject to the regulations. However, the ministry will not consider posts by individual patients about their experiences as ads, as long as the patient has not received payment.

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