Government launches consultation on how to make Botox safer in England

There are growing calls for the introduction of a licensing scheme for cosmetic businesses operating in England, as Raveena Ghattaura reports.

The Government has opened a consultation to gather insights and opinions on how to make Botox procedures and other non-surgical cosmetic treatments safer.

The move comes as an estimated 900,000 Botox injections are carried out in the UK each year, and concerns about subpar procedures continue to mount.

Save Face – a Government-approved register of accredited practitioners – received almost 3,000 complaints in 2022, with more than two-thirds of those complaints relating to dermal fillers and almost a quarter relating to Botox.

The consultation invites industry professionals and individuals who have undergone non-surgical cosmetic procedures, such as Botox, laser hair removal, and dermal fillers, to provide their views on proposed measures to ensure safety and quality in the industry.

Botox is designed to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Credit: AP

The insights gathered will play a pivotal role in shaping new regulations, including the introduction of a licensing scheme for practitioners and cosmetic businesses operating in England.

This could include age limits and restrictions for high-risk procedures, including those involving injecting fillers into intimate parts of the body such as the breasts and buttocks.

Health minister Maria Caulfield said: “Whether it’s Botox, dermal fillers or even a chemical peel, we have heard too many stories of people who’ve had bad experiences from getting a cosmetic procedure from someone who is inexperienced or underqualified.

“There’s no doubt that the popularity of cosmetic procedures is increasing, so it’s our role to ensure consistent standards for consumers and a level playing field for businesses and practitioners.

“We want to make sure we get this right for everyone, which is why we want to hear your opinions and experiences through our new consultation.”

Director of Save Face Ashton Collins said: “While we appreciate that we are still at very early stages of any potential licensing scheme being implemented in England, we are delighted to have been invited by the government to contribute our thoughts and ideas ahead of the release of this public consultation.

“Being involved in the process has enabled Save Face to actively contribute to roundtable discussions with ministers, policymakers and key stakeholders.

“As the largest and longest-established Professional Standards Authority accredited register, we are able to provide a unique level of insight based on 10 years of gathering data from practitioner and clinic audits as well as patient reported complaints, adverse reactions and complications.

“This will enable us to help develop a fit-for-purpose scheme that has public safety as its primary focus. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the government and key stakeholders during the next stages of the process.”

Some of the risks include abscesses, haematomas and even permanent blindness. Credit: AP

Professor David Sines CBE, chair of the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners, said he warmly welcomes the Government’s decision to consult on a proposed licensing scheme.

“It will help to ensure that people who undergo non-surgical cosmetic procedures receive treatment from practitioners who are properly trained and qualified, have the necessary insurance cover and operate from premises that are safe and hygienic,” he said.

The consultation will run for eight weeks and will close on October 28.

It follows the passing of the Health and Care Act in April 2022, which gave the Health Secretary the power to introduce a licensing regime.

Under the proposed scheme, which will be operated by local authorities in England, practitioners will need to be licensed to perform specific procedures, and the premises from which they operate will also need to be licensed.

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