April 24, 2013
NHS Director Urges Crackdown On UK Cosmetic Surgery Industry
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
UK officials are looking to scrutinize cosmetic procedures they say are potentially dangerous and have gone unregulated for too long.
A new review led by Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director at the National Health Service, announced several warnings and recommendations designed to regulate anti-wrinkle treatments and dermal fillers, which are injected into the lips or skin to give a supple appearance.
"A person having a non-surgical cosmetic intervention has no more protection and redress than someone buying a ballpoint pen or a toothbrush," the report warned. "Dermal fillers are a particular cause for concern as anyone can set themselves up as a practitioner, with no requirement for knowledge, training or previous experience.
“Nor are there sufficient checks in place with regard to product quality — most dermal fillers have no more controls than a bottle of floor cleaner,” the report continued. “It is our view that dermal fillers are a crisis waiting to happen."
Current UK policy is in sharp contrast to that in the US, where treatments are heavily regulated and can only be administered by a licensed professional.
The review panel also warned about “fly in, fly out” surgeons who are not based in the UK, but come to the country to perform cosmetic procedures.
The report was initiated at the behest of former health secretary Andrew Lansley following the PIP implant scandal in which an estimated 50,000 UK women are said to have received defective breast implants filled with industrial grade silicon.
"If anything good can come of awful episodes like the PIP scandal, it is that the safety of the procedures that people may choose to undergo has been questioned,” current health minister Dan Poulter told The Guardian. “It is clear that it is time for the government to step in to ensure the public are properly protected."
The report advises the government to increase regulations covering the UK´s multi-billion dollar industry. It said all cosmetic procedures should only be performed by registered medical practitioners who have been specifically trained to perform the procedures.
Non-invasive cosmetic procedures occupy a different space in UK culture compared to the US and the report highlighted "the many TV makeover [programs] where participants have procedures financed by providers.
"Of particular concern are TV reality drama shows in which its young stars [glamorize] cosmetic procedures," it added. "It is not always made clear that these celebrities have contracts with particular providers."
The report made a connection between UK celebrity culture and attitudes of young British girls, saying 41 percent of girls between the ages of seven and ten, and 63 percent of girls between eleven and 16 said they felt pressured to look the way celebrities do.
Simon Withey, a plastic surgeon and member of the review panel, singled out one popular show as a major source of the trivialization of cosmetic procedures, The Only Way Is Essex.
"I think shows like this probably do contribute to this trivialization,” he told The Guardian. “There is a failure to inform the public of the risks of these things."