Wednesday, 13 March 2019

long awaited call for laws on dermal fillers finally answered by government

Lip fillers, cheek fillers, everything fillers; this is the filler generation. They are at the height of their popularity and are only just being taken seriously by MPs. A report by global market-research company Mintel, found that 28% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 25 to 34-year-olds have had a cosmetic treatment in some form. What was once reserved for celebrities with endless cash has now become the norm for everyone.


This type of beauty goes further than skin deep. In 2015, the Office for National Statistics found that 27% of teenagers who use social media for more than three hours a day have symptoms of mental health issues. Unnatural standards are portrayed as the norm on social media, with Instagram being the top offender. 

Everything that influencers post is practically a form of subconscious marketing, a lot of people are viewing their photos and wanting what they’ve got. Even if that’s plumped lips and a ‘perfect’ nose. These days getting a non-invasive cosmetic procedure is as easy as getting the latest haircut trend. 

Instagram’s lack of guidelines could be held accountable for the massive surge in teenagers getting fillers. They have no rules for cosmetic surgery profiles or advertisements. It’s full of business profiles promoting their aesthetic services, a lot of which are at discounted prices. Some offer treatments for under £100 in comparison to clinics on Harley Street, where the average starting price is £199. What’s most shocking, is the fact these businesses create their own competitions with prizes including free treatments. However, there is no official law stating that plastic surgery, of any form, can’t be given as a prize. 

An example of a competition. This one is offering 'The Kylie Jenner Package' as it's prize,
a total of 5ml of free filler - Sourced from Instagram

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) is an organisation made up of over 300 surgeons who all follow a code of practice and ethics to improve overall safety standards. They also work to educate the public about benefits and risks of aesthetic cosmetic surgery. They released the following statement about competitions: “Offering plastic surgery as a prize is clearly against [General Medical Council] guidance and, in this case, is both transgressing the guidance for good patient care and bringing the speciality into disrepute in a very public manner”. 

It isn’t just competition prizes that have no laws, it’s the actual injection of dermal filler. You don’t have to be medically trained or even have any relevant qualifications. People like this often title themselves ‘aesthetic/cosmetic practitioner’, when in fact they are beauticians or the average Joe or Jane that wants to hop on the bandwagon. 

This practically lawless section of the industry often means that these self-proclaimed practitioners are swapping clinically clean salons for a spare room in their own homes. Twenty-two-year-old Hannah Neil from Oxfordshire is one of many young adults that have chosen to get fillers and has had a bad experience which resulted in botched lips. 

A woman offering cosmetic procedures followed Hannah on Instagram. The procedure took place at the woman’s flat in Oxford in July 2018.  “Looking back now, I never actually saw any certificates or any proof that she had actually passed any of these courses. I just went off pictures of work she had previously done on clients which made me trust her”. 

Hannah's first selfie after having lip fillers in July 2018

“Within five minutes it was done. They were super, super swollen and I had loads of bruising.” Hannah was told that the swelling would go down within one to two weeks, but it was within that first week that she started to notice the problems surface. There were lumps forming in her lips and they remain there to this day, eight months later. “I absolutely hate looking at myself in the mirror because its left my lips lumpy…It was getting to the point where I just wanted to squeeze my lips or pierce them with a needle” 

“All it takes is a follow or a like and they entice you in with really good deals. I paid just £80, I can’t believe I was so stupid, I hadn’t done my research. They weren’t medically endorsed it wasn’t as if I was going into a proper clinic it was just someone’s house and now I’m stuck with a smile I hate”

Nurse and CEO of Be You Aesthetics in Leeds, Hadassah Wilson, says things need to change, “We feel extremely strongly that only practitioners with a medical background and experience should carry out aesthetic treatments”.  Hadassah says she would like to see medic only regulations introduced, much like Scotland did in April 2017. The Scottish Government found that the increased popularity of these treatments, along with the lack of regulation in the industry as a whole, was leaving the Scottish public exposed to injury by practitioners. 

Hadassah in action at her clinic in Leeds - Credit: BeYouAesthetics

Last month, new regulations concerning non-surgical procedures were launched in the House of Lords. Following this, the Government intends to make dermal fillers prescription only by 2020, thought this has not yet been confirmed. It will mean non-clinicians will find it very difficult to reach the standards required to inject dermal fillers. In the meantime, two independent bodies, The JCCP (Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners) and The CPSA (Cosmetic Practitioner’s Standards Authority) will work together to enforce the future regulations from March 2019. 

The register may encourage unregistered practitioners to go ‘underground’ and without legislation they cannot be stopped. It’s a shame that this loophole has been open for so long in the cosmetic surgery industry, which has resulted in so much injury and deceit. However, it’s a start but much more needs to be done to make the industry safer for future generations.  

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