The PIP breast implant fraud crisis blew open the cosmetic industry to critical review of how patients are treated and the rules which may or may not be in place to protect them.
Now dermal fillers are in the limelight, a reputable anti-ageing aesthetic injectable treatment, yet with potential to produce the next crisis of confidence in safe cosmetic care.
Dermal fillers are the substances used to fill out wrinkles to give a smoother skin without the freezing effects produced by Botulinum toxins. More than 160 types of dermal filler are thought to have been used in the UK, of which only around 20 are CE-marked and from reputable manufacturers fully tested and properly labelled. The others can be from anywhere in the world, of uncertain quality and doubtful safety, introduced for their cheapness. Dermal fillers are not classified as medicines, so they bypass all the safety controls you expect for medicines.
Aesthetic treatments like dermal fillers and Botox are a huge market – more than 1.5 million treatments conducted last year and set to rise in 2013 – worth £740 million at the last count and rising. No wonder some see it as get-rich-quick time.
If you accept some cheap unlabelled import then you are putting yourself at risk. Accept unmarked substances administered in a non-clinical setting (we have heard of a garden shed being used) by non-clinical people, such as beauty therapists, and you are at vastly increased risk of infection or unpleasant adverse effects you will not want your neighbours to see. You will have no redress in these circumstances and only yourself to blame. Your therapist will not have the background training or expertise to help you, whatever certificate they may display.
Reputable dermal fillers used by appropriately qualified clinicians in clinical surroundings are effective aesthetic improvers. And very safe. Only doctors, dentists and registered nurses have the necessary expertise and professional standing to administer dermal fillers safely and then be held to account for your safety.
Others, no matter their background and impressive their certificates, cannot deliver the requisite expertise of the healthcare professionals and nor are they accountable for outcomes. In some cases, certificates displayed by non-medical practitioners relate to a mere half a day of instruction. Your face is made up of numerous intricately linked and overlapping muscles and series of nerves. Would you let someone without specific clinical knowledge of the face and muscle anatomy inject you? Incidences of paralysis, scarring and permanent damage happen – don’t let it be to you.
Now, what about those disreputable suppliers of dodgy products? Some are calling for dermal fillers to be reclassified as prescription-only medicines, available only to medical-qualified clinicians. Arguments that this would prevent them from falling into the wrong hands fail before the example of Botox, already a prescription-only drug but often seen in the hands of beauty therapists and other inappropriately qualified people who disregard the law with impunity. Patients can still come to harm and have no redress.
By controlling the distribution of dermal fillers and restricting use to those regulated professions who are clinically competent to use them, others, such as beauty therapists, who are not clinically competent to administer such treatments, will be kept from putting you at risk..
You must make an educated decision before choosing your treatment with dermal fillers, and fortunately the www.TreatmentsYouCanTrust.org.uk quality assurance scheme can assist you. By consulting this online register, you gain instant access to a host of quality-assured professionals who are regulated and fully qualified to administer dermal fillers. Our online register of quality-assured clinics, provides an easy and accessible tool to shop responsibly for cosmetic injectable treatments
Choose one, and you will be in safe hands. In the present rip-roaring market, awash with shysters after a quick buck, you need to discern who can give safe cosmetic injections.
In the meantime, we will continue the campaign to ensure dermal fillers and other injectables are used correctly and safely.
• Sally Taber is director of Treatments You Can Trust
Austin Brewer is the ONLY practitioner in Dorset that has been awarded with the registration on the Treatments You Can Trust register.