Cosmetic beauty clinics to screen customers for mental health problems ahead of procedures

Health clinics offering cosmetic procedures such as botox and fillers are to introduce checks to screen customers for mental health problems.

Some providers will be trained to stop conditions such as body dysmorphic disorder, which causes people to obsess over their image, and refer them to NHS facilities where necessary.

Following a meeting with NHS England, the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners agreed to introduce the new measures.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director welcomed the additional checks - but warned providers who are not members of the council will not have to adopt the code.

He said: "Cosmetic firms bringing in tighter controls to protect young people’s mental health is a major step forward, but voluntary steps on their own mean mental health too often will still be left in the hands of providers operating as a law unto themselves.

“We know that appearance is the one of the things that matters most to young people, and the bombardment of idealised images and availability of quick fix procedures is helping fuel a mental health and anxiety epidemic.

“The NHS Long Term Plan is dramatically expanding world-leading mental health services, but we cannot just be left to pick up the pieces – we need all parts of society to show a duty of care and take action to prevent avoidable harm.”

All members of the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners are expected to follow the new code, which is designed to assess customer's suitability for the procedure.

Superdrug, which offers Botox and dermal fillers at its flagship store in central London, agreed to assess customers before carrying out procedures.

The move came after Prof Powis wrote to the pharmacy chain expressing concern.

High street brand Superdrug agreed to carry out checks on customers. Credit: PA

Kitty Wallace, from the Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) foundation, said: “Cosmetic procedures like Botox, now widely available on the high street, are putting people at risk and can have a damaging effect on the mental health of young people.

“We know that people with BDD are more likely to turn to ‘quick fix’ procedures that ultimately do not address or help the underlying psychological condition.

"BDD affects one in 50 people, causing significant distress and has a huge impact on quality of life.

“It’s great to see the NHS and professionals leading the sea change, but we now need all parts of society to change their attitudes and take action to protect vulnerable individuals.”

  • Is the rise of Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner lip, cheek and jaw filler packages a cause for concern?

The move comes after an ITV News investigation earlier in 2019 found huge number of these procedures are going wrong - and those carrying them out are often not able to correct mistakes.

The number of official complaints about non-surgical procedures has more than doubled to over 600 cases in the last three years, according to Save Face, a company running a government-recognised national register of accredited practitioners.

In a survey carried out for ITV News, it found lip filler errors made up almost 70% of all corrective work and 47% of procedures that led to complaints were carried out by beauticians.

Yet because there is no legal requirement to report mistakes if things go wrong the exact number of errors may be far higher.

Rachael Knappier suffered a catastrophic injury after a lip augmentation treatment went wrong and filler was injected into an artery.

A filler was incorrectly injected into an artery in Rachael's lip, which left untreated could have cause necrosis. Credit: ITV News

Ms Knappier, whose treatment was administered by a beauty therapist, told ITV News of the unbearable pain she suffered after having filler injected into her lip to even out a lump.

"My top lip was touching my nose and it was then that I started to realise just how much pain I was in," she said.

"It felt like a burning throbbing pulsating feeling and it was as if my lips were just seconds away from bursting."

Earlier this year, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), a self-regulating body of medical professionals, called for much tighter regulation on who is legally allowed to inject fillers in the UK.

Nora Nugent, a spokesperson for BAAPS and a plastic surgeon, told ITV News she thinks to "perform an invasive procedure, which any injectable treatment, that person at the very least should have some medical training".