THE BLOG

A Response to the New Cosmetic Rulings

14/02/2014 14:46 GMT | Updated 16/04/2014 10:59 BST

Unusually for some within aesthetics, today I'm welcoming the new rules for cosmetic procedures, after Thursday's announcement by the Government.

Actioning recommendations made by the Keogh Report, moves will now be enforced upon the cosmetic enhancement industry designed to limit the growing reputation that some unethical practitioners are giving us as "cowboys".

Steps will be taken to regulate botox and filler use, in particular by ensuring all administrators have the correct - and most crucially, certified - training.

Of course, the effects of this will remain to be seen. Every year we become better at medicalising an industry that should be doctor-led, but unfortunately we still have a way to go. Hopefully, with the right timeframes and enough aggressive but fair action, the accreditation of botox and filler suppliers will ultimately lead to fillers becoming prescription-only medicines, like botox. That would ensure the safety of patients and clinics alike.

Clinics must be held accountable for their records. Like John Ryan of MYA Clinics pointed out, if an organization as massive as the National Health Service are publishing increasing amounts of clinical data, so should the private sector. There's very little excuse - those of us upholding the best standards within cosmetics have nothing to hide, and can use our records to shame poorer providers out of business.

The BBC reported that "plastic surgeons" had declared the new rulings "appalling" and "pay 'only lip service'" to patient service, citing that failing to already declare fillers as prescription-only short changes patients.

It's interesting to speculate why they didn't do this. The industry is worth £2.3 billion annually, and fillers, botox and laser hair removal accounts for nine in 10 interventions, worth 75% of the market - perhaps limiting providers might limit tax profits. However, as under E.U. legislation fillers aren't medicine, the U.K. cannot re-classify them alone. Perhaps it's time to pressure European law to seek true justice.

After the PIP scandal of 2012, where a lack of records by surgeons meant women did not know if they had been affected by leaky breast implants, Sir Bruce Keogh investigated patient safety within the industry and issued suggestions to the Government on improving patient safety. A key point in his recommendations included making fillers prescription medicine, noting that currently it has the same regulation as "ballpoint pens" and "toothbrushes".

Rajiv Grover, the president of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons is somewhat more outraged than I on their failure to do this. He said that, "The ability to classify fillers as prescription only would have allowed three birds to be killed with one stone."

"It would effectively have controlled the marketing and sale of these fillers, it would have regulated who can perform these injections, and it would have provided an automatic ban on advertising."

He may well be right on suggesting it's an opportunity missed, but I'm confident that all awareness is good awareness. Patients are becoming increasingly aware of what to look for when seeking treatment, and headlines on these new rules - even if they don't quite fulfill their potential yet - can only help even more.

The package really is the biggest reform the industry has seen, and gives us hope for what is possible. Sir Bruce Keogh said that this is only the beginning of a journey, and I'm inclined to agree. Every step we collectively take is one close to a regulated, safe industry, led by medical professionals.