Warning over cosmetic treatments
Doctors will have to get extra qualifications alongside beauty therapists if they want to carry out non-surgical cosmetic treatments getting rid of wrinkles, a report into the industry is expected to say.
The review into plastic surgery by NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh is understood to suggest a new law targeting people who carry out dermal fillers - injections under the skin to smooth wrinkles - and laser treatment for wrinkles or hair reduction.
These treatments make up 90% of the sector - worth a total £2.3 billion in 2010 - but are largely unregulated, in contrast to Botox, which is only legally available on prescription.
Speaking ahead of the release of his review later this month, Sir Bruce said that patients were being exposed to "unreasonable risks" and "permanent damage" because of a lack of appropriate training for those carrying out such treatments.
"All too often we hear of cases that shine a light on poor practices in the cosmetic surgery industry," he said. "I am concerned that some practitioners who are giving non-surgical treatments may not have had any appropriate training whatsoever. This leaves people exposed to unreasonable risks, and possibly permanent damage."
The new law is understood to mean cosmetic staff would need either a qualification to perform and supervise aesthetic treatments, or a qualification to perform aesthetic treatments under the jurisdiction of a qualified clinical professional.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) gave a cautious welcome to the idea, but said that it wanted only medical professionals to be allowed to perform treatments. President, Rajiv Grover, said: "Non-surgical does not mean non-medical. Treatments with dermal fillers have clear benefits but also risks - it is not just about who can wield a syringe but who will have the capabilities to deal with any possible complications.
"We agree that specialised training is required and certainly more extensive than the many widely-promoted weekend courses currently available, but aesthetic injectables should only ever be provided by medical professionals.
The review into the cosmetic industry, requested by then health secretary Andrew Lansley last year, was launched after around 40,000 women in the UK received implants manufactured by the now-closed French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP), mostly in private UK clinics. The implants were filled with non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses.
Several other measures have been suggested to the review team by the public, the industry itself and patient groups. They include a ban on cut-price deals, and a clampdown on aggressive sales techniques and a two-stage consent process for potential patients to allow them time to reflect before making a final decision.