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Out-Law News 2 min. read

Regulation of UK Botox use ‘a boost for high-quality practitioners’

Proposals published by the UK government to crack down on Botox “rogue traders” are likely to help responsible practitioners grow their businesses, according to one expert.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced plans to introduce a licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures, like Botox and dermal fillers, that have the potential to cause harm if improperly performed. The move follows a ban on similar procedures for under-18s in England.

The DHSC said a proposed amendment to the 2021 Health and Care Bill, tabled earlier this week, would give ministers the power to introduce consistent standards for providers of cosmetic procedures as well as hygiene and safety standards for premises. It said the precise scope and detail of the licensing regime would be determined through “extensive” industry engagement and a public consultation.

Welcoming the proposals, Louise Fullwood, medical law expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “Although the majority of the aesthetics industry shows good practice when it comes to patient safety, this step will ensure consistent standards and protect individuals from those without licences - including from the potentially harmful physical and mental impacts of poorly performed cosmetic procedures.”

“The proposed regulation would be likely to increase administrative work and costs to providers, though this could remove the financial incentives for rogue traders to enter or continue to participate in the industry. That change could also give a boost to providers willing to invest in proper training, safety and operational procedures that deliver a high-quality service,” she added.

A 2021 study found that one in six people who undergo facial Botox treatments report complications such as bruising, abscesses, infection, drooping eyes, paralysis and frozen features. Fullwood said: “Over the past few years there have been number of reports of people who have suffered damage as a result of badly administered Botox and fillers. Alongside the immediate physical damage, this frequently leads to mental health problems.”

The DHSC’s announcement comes as the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) examines the prospect of bringing certain devices, such as dermal fillers without a medical purpose, into the scope of medical device regulations.

Fullwood said: “While there are courses and qualifications available for providing Botox and filler procedures in the UK, these are not compulsory. A qualification is required to prescribe Botox, but entirely untrained and unqualified individuals are currently able to set up and administer these products.”

“By comparison, a range of other activities are overseen by regulations in the 2008 Heath & Social Care Act - including dental hygiene procedures, some slimming clinic services, and personal care services like assistance with bathing and dressing. Providers of such activities are required to register with England’s Care Quality Commission (CQC) - or with its equivalents in the devolved nations - who inspect and report on the quality of service. It is noteworthy that these services, which are often low risk, require registration, while potentially harmful cosmetic procedures do not,” Fullwood added.

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