Superdrug is about to bring Botox and fillers to the British high street for as little as £99 per session, but doctors are cautious that increased accessibility will make consumers view the treatment as casual as waxing.
The pharmacy, which is the first to bring the service to shops, says it will be hiring nurses to undertake the cosmetic procedure and there will be strict regulations about who can have it.
But this hasn’t stopped senior medics warning it could lure vulnerable people into undergoing a potentially harmful procedure.
Superdrug plans to roll out the in-house Botox service this week under the brand ‘Skin Renew’ starting in their store on the Strand in London, before becoming available nationwide.
Although customers will have to be over 25, undergo a telephone consultation with a qualified nurse, and complete a medical questionnaire before they are allowed anywhere near the needles, critics are concerned about what it means to move the procedures outside of a clinical setting.
Gerard Lambe, surgeon and spokesperson for the British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons, said: “While Superdrug may be hiring medically trained nurses, it is crucial members of the public do not treat having Botox and dermal fillers as casual beauty treatments, like brow threading or waxing.
“Administering an injection of any kind is a very serious procedure and requires an experienced and qualified health professional.”
The concerns are similar to those that have arisen around ‘Botox parties’ in the UK where people hire people to come to their homes or other domestic settings and administer fillers: often under the influence of alcohol.
Lambe said: “All kinds of risks can arise, from infection to incorrectly applied needle placement over delicate facial muscles - which can lead to paralysis.”
Dr Jane Leonard, who works at a clinic on Harley Street, recently told HuffPost UK she recently saw a 23-year-old woman who was suffering complications from a filler: she’d developed an abscess on her face which had become infected. “She was injected by a beautician at a party, but it went wrong,” says Leonard.
She was injected by a beautician at a party, but it went wrong.'
Lambe who also runs a clinic in Manchester, said: “Lip fillers are a real issue too and I often get women at my clinic needing corrective treatment following dangerously injected fillers.”
And they aren’t the only ones. Dr Munir Somji, chief medical officer at Dr MediSpa, previously told HuffPost that around 20% of his daily work is corrective.
Lambe advised would-be customers: “My advice is to always check your provider’s medical qualifications, inspect the clinic for hygiene as well as health and safety, and always get proof that they are on the official Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners register which notably recently blocked beauty therapists from registering to do injectables, such is the seriousness of these procedures.”
Superdrug says treatments are being offered following feedback from 10,000 customers who want anti-wrinkle and skin rejuvenation on the high street.
Caris Newson, head of health and wellbeing services at Superdrug, said: “We’re launching this service in response to customer demand for anti-wrinkle and skin rejuvenation treatments.
“We’re listening to what people are telling us they would like which is the reassurance that if they choose to have aesthetic treatments then it will be administered by highly qualified nurse practitioners in a private room.”
Non-surgical cosmetic treatments now generate over £2.75bn in the UK every year. With each session costing on average £150-£300 you can understand why everyone wants a slice of the pie.