After the awfulness of the PIP breast implant scandal, the medical director of the NHS has now turned his eye to Botox. laser, peel and filler regulations and is looking to get them tightened up.

As it stands at the moment, there is such scant regulation on who can give Botox and fillers that really, it could be almost anyone wielding a needle. It’s rather shocking that under the legislation that stands, non-healthcare professionals are perfectly entitled to do as they please with your face if you give them permission to do so. I’ve always maintained that I’d only ever go to someone who is actually qualified to understand the complex muscle structure of the face and someone who has plenty of experience in using needles and measuring doses and that almost always means a qualified doctor. Even then, the art of facial aesthetics is complex and not foolproof even for the most experienced of doctors – I’ve had Botox brow droop a couple of times and it makes you look furious for months. 

I’ve never really understood why you’d look for the cheapest, other than the absolute obvious – it’s cheaper! And, I’ve never understood why anyone wouldn’t really question exactly what qualifications the person about to plunge a needle into your face or direct a laser over your skin actually has to be doing so. Would you let a butcher draw your blood? No. Would you let decorator pop a mild acid solution on your face? Chances are, no. And how much would you trust a tax inspector to plump up your cheeks with dermal filler? Not much, I bet. And while these are extreme points and it is usually only nurses or beauticians who are able to perform these, unless you do your homework about who is messing with your face, you just don’t know. So of course the industry must be better regulated. I did a quick check with Dr Patrick Bowler at Court House Clinics who has done my Botox (or at least one of his team has) for ages and his thoughts are that any non-surgicals should be treated as a medical procedure in medically equipped premises.

The GMC last month decided to ban the remote prescribing of Botox which means that doctors can’t just say yes over the phone to a practitioner injecting someone. If the practitioner isn’t actually a doctor, it has to be authorised by a doctor and this could (before the change) be done by phone or internet, which has obvious flaws. In many cases, it could well be that the prescribing doctor has no idea what the skills of the practitioner are, whether they are operating safely or even, indeed, that they are who they say they are.

Patrick’s advice to anyone (and it’s my advice, too) is to check around and don’t always go for the cheapest option. Anything crazy-cheap should ring an immediate alarm bell, as should anything that seems ridiculously expensive. You should also always check that the doctor is accredited by an organisation such as BCAM, BAAPS, BAPS or BAD and that the clinic is registered with the CQC and IHAS. 

Just a little checking before hand and a common sense approach is going to really pay off. If PIPs could happen, then it’s not out of the question that a similar thing could happen with non-surgicals.

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