Bodged Botox?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
September 17, 2010, 5:59 PM GMT+0

There is major public concern over unqualified cosmetic surgery practitioners, our online poll has shown. The results come as a new online register that lists reputable providers of injectable cosmetic treatments in the UK went live last Monday, amid widespread support.

73% of British consumers surveyed expressed concern over the possibility of receiving injectable cosmetics treatment from a provider who is not appropriately qualified, a problem that could be set to become widespread as ten percent of 18 to 24 year-olds say they ‘are likely to have a cosmetic treatment in the future’.

Information on safety

Hence the new directory, which has been set up by the Independent Healthcare Advisory Services (IHAS), to help consumers choose a qualified provider of injectable cosmetic surgery and thus avoid becoming the victims of the unsafe cosmetic practices of so-called ‘Botox® cowboys’. Cosmetic clinics that pass the tough regulation standards are awarded the Quality Assurance Mark and are registered on the website. At the moment there is no Government regulation in place, but 72% of the British consumers asked said that in its absence they would use the new site, suggesting a clear desire among interested parties for information on safety.

Injecting an orange?

And it seems consumers’ concerns are not unjustified. Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, Chairman of IHAS, revealed that ‘there are many instances of practising providers with as little as half a day’s training’, which, allegedly means that would-be professionals don’t progress beyond injecting an orange before they can start charging for real procedures. Peter Walsh, Chief Executive of Action against Medical Accidents is equally concerned, saying, ‘Hardly a week goes by without us hearing from someone who has been harmed as a result of sub-standard cosmetic treatment.’

‘Swelling lasting a month’

There have also been reported incidents of providers prescribing without actually meeting the patient, of vials being shared, of Botox® being stored in domestic fridges and of lack of waste collection for used needles. June Tapfield, a Botox® user, says her friend didn’t check the qualifications of her provider and ended up with a ‘swelling which lasted a month’. Indeed, Vallance-Owen stresses the importance of having a ‘face-to-face consultation with the [Botox®] prescriber’.

And with 85% agreeing that actress Lesley Ash, who famously saw poor results after a lip enhancement, was ‘foolish’ in choosing a provider who was ‘not appropriately qualified’, it seems the concern over poor quality practices may prompt users to search the new online register, preventing rogue Botox® cowboys from lassoing any more innocent shoppers.

See the survey details and full results here