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POSTED ON 21 September 2022
A couple of months ago the Government cracked down on the implementation of unregulated cosmetic procedures in the UK. The regime was introduced in the hope that it would protect the health (both mental and physical) of patients opting for ‘non surgical’ procedures, like botox and fillers. Despite being dubbed ‘non-surgical’, the treatments still require the use of needles, lasers, and sometimes even scalpels. Medical knowledge of the cosmetic practitioner is paramount in order for the patient to be safe, and get a good result, but until this year in March 2022, there were no regulations around these procedures meaning that no licensing or medically recognised qualification was necessary. Scary.
Many respected practitioners have been eager for the government to take action, aiming to abolish irresponsible businesses that do not have the necessary qualifications or ethics to be running establishments of this kind. Dr Ahmed El Muntasar spoke with Glamour Magazine and said, "I think this will be amazing for patient safety and protecting vulnerable patients from rogue injectors – and people that have not got the medical training to be able to inject – but more importantly it's about dealing with the complications and this is where medical training comes in.
"It is so important to ensure anyone administering Botox or fillers has the knowledge and expertise to do so. You have to ask yourself, what if you block a blood vessel, what if you jeopardise the blood supply to someone's eye, what can you do then? This is where your medical training comes in to be able to deal with the pressure, you know how to manage the complication so it's very much step one. Actually protecting our patients from these back-alley clinics and cowboy injectors is essential. I very much agree with [the new regulations] and feel it is an important step forward." (Glamour Mag)
The new regulations also ensure that it is illegal to administer these sorts of treatments to under 18 year olds. Yeah, kind of crazy this wasn’t the case before? The government has also gone one step further, and has banned any sort of adverts that target young people, including all social media platforms and influencer advertising.
And yep, here we go again, it’s time to point the finger at social media. Instagram has been around since 2010, and it’s worth stating that over two thirds of its users are aged 34 years and younger. And, under 18 year olds are arguably the most impressionable demographic amongst us and this (we didn’t say it, statista did) ‘makes the platform particularly attractive to marketers.’ For many reasons, Social media platforms have been a blessing, and a curse at the same time, but hopefully this new legislation can lessen the impact of ‘rogue injectors’ as Dr El Muntasar calls them! Laura Trott was the MP that successfully submitted the bill to put the age restriction on cush cosmetic treatments in 2021 and whilst she highlights that ‘ people should have the right to choose what to do to their own bodies it is vital that a regulatory framework protects consumers, and particularly those most vulnerable to social media targeting, to allow them to make informed and safe choices.’
Doctors blame ‘celebrity culture’ for our increasing obsession with looking ‘filtered’ and platforms like Instagram and, more recently Tik Tok, are proliferating these beauty standards to another level. Talking to the Sunday Times, Dr Nick Lowe, who is in fact the dermatologist who helped develop the botox injections in the 90’s, said “Girls are having treatment at an age when they don’t need it [and] we’re seeing body dysmorphic syndromes and a terrible loss of self-confidence. They’re convinced that looking like a celebrity is going to make them happier and more successful.”
Making a decision to get a surgical procedure of this nature should not be taken lightly, and needs to be orchestrated in a safe and regulated environment, regardless if you’re 18 or 70! And, of course, there are plenty of beauty cosmetic practices that offer these augmentation procedures that do so ethically and responsibly. Former Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said, “While most of those in the aesthetics industry follow good practice when it comes to patient safety, far too many people have been left emotionally and physically scarred after botched cosmetic procedures.” He goes on to say, “We’re doing all we can to protect patients from potential harm, but I urge anyone considering a cosmetic procedure to take the time to think about the impact on both their physical and mental health and ensure they are using a reputable, safe and qualified practitioner.” (GOV)