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Beware the Botched Fillers!

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

Stepping up the Campaign for Effective and Overdue Regulation of Cosmetic Procedures in the UK

Beware the Botched Fillers!

Just before Christmas 2020, members of the British College for Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM), including Dr James Kimilu of Dr Confidence Aesthetics, were asked to take part in a survey on behalf of BBC Radio 4. The objective was to investigate controversies around injectable fillers, asking whether BCAM members had ever treated patients who presented with complications arising from botched filler procedures carried out by non-healthcare individuals.

The responses, together with those of members of the British Association of Cosmetic Nurses, have been collated and formed part of a programme piece on fillers broadcast on Radio 4 ‘Woman’s Hour’ on Monday. January 18th 2021. We’ve provided the link to the show at the end of this article but, as a snapshot, here are the key findings from the survey.

  • 300 BCAM members reported seeing patients who had encountered prior problems from injectable treatments.

  • 5% of problems were described as minor.

  • 75% as moderate

  • Around a quarter were described as severe – including occurrences of blocked arteries, resulting in early-stage necrosis (where the skin dies due to lack of blood supply)

The programme heard from one lady who had had lip fillers administered by a woman during lockdown, which immediately became significantly swollen and required urgent medical attention at a local A&E department. It’s well worth listening to, especially if you are thinking of undergoing a cosmetic procedure.

What is the Government doing about regulating non-surgical cosmetic procedures?

Last year, The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) at Westminster launched a key inquiry into non-surgical cosmetic procedures, looking into how standards for undertaking and advertising treatments, such as botulinum toxins or similar anti-wrinkle injectables, dermal fillers, polydioxanone (PDO) threads and cogs, should be improved. The objective behind this is to support the beauty and aesthetics industry and also to protect public safety.

The AAPG has requested written evidence and is in the process of inviting witnesses to give verbal evidence to the inquiry.

At Dr Confidence Aesthetics, we welcome this on-going initiative. We believe fervently in the view that the cosmetic procedures we undertake should be regarded exclusively as medical treatments and that they should ONLY EVER be performed by medical professionals.

To this end, we strongly advocate that regulation and licensing is adopted as soon as possible in the UK, that effectively distinguishes bona fide practitioners from unqualified operators, who are currently free to administer filler injections with impunity, which could patients at risk. This is utterly wrong, in our view.

What is currently under review? (as extracted from the Government’s guidelines)

  • The scope and scale of non-surgical cosmetic treatments in the UK.

  • Procedures within scope of this inquiry are botulinum toxins or similar anti-wrinkle injectables, dermal fillers, polydioxanone (PDO) threads and PDO cogs.

  • Assess the adequacy of the regulatory and legislative structures and training around non-surgical cosmetic treatments in the UK.

  • Review the case for registration of practitioners.

  • Consider the media and consumer environment for products.

Which important questions are being addressed?

  • Which of these non-surgical cosmetic procedures are being carried out, where, by whom, with what qualifications, and with what clinical oversight?

  • What regulatory measures currently exist in relation to who should be able to carry out what procedures and where, under what conditions? Is the current framework adequate or are further regulatory measures needed?

  • Are current training standards and qualifications adequate for practitioners who carry out specified non-surgical cosmetic procedures? Are appropriate training opportunities and qualifications available to all?

  • Are standards regarding product quality and premises hygiene standards robust enough? Are current checks and enforcement actions adequate and consistent across the UK?

  • Should there be voluntary or mandatory registration of beauty therapists and medical professionals carrying out such procedures? Are there effective alternatives or additions to registration?

  • Should there be a legal age limit for undertaking specified non-surgical cosmetic procedures?

  • Should there be greater advertising restrictions for fillers and specified non-cosmetic cosmetic procedures?

  • What impact is the rise of social media influencers and the increasing promotion/sale of such procedures online having on the industry and on consumer safety?

  • What legislative changes are required to ensure a safe industry for those seeking treatments and to protect vulnerable people?

  • How can members of the public considering undertaking such a procedure be better informed on where/from whom they should do so? What should be done to make sure people are better informed about the risks of such procedures?

Meanwhile, the wide availability of fillers and lack of regulation, remain a priority on BCAM’s 2021 agenda. BCAM is also supporting Laura Trott MP’s Botulinum Toxin & Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill, which has its Third Reading in the House in March.

Finally, it feels like there is strong momentum for positive change in the cosmetic and aesthetics industry in this country. At Dr Confidence Aesthetics, we await further developments with great interest in these parliamentary investigations.

Dr James Kimilu, a Member of BCAM, has specialised in aesthetic medicine since 2005. During that time, he has performed thousands of non-surgical, non-invasive aesthetic treatments.

BBC Radio 4 - Woman's Hour, Lana Clarkson, Cosmetic Fillers, Confessions of a Duchess, Debut novel Girl A

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