The United Kingdom is “facing” a major problem. Unqualified and illegal practitioners are causing soaring rates of botched cosmetic procedures – namely botched facial filler applications – and the public is demanding lawmakers take action. In fact, in 2017 alone Botox injuries jumped from 378 cases to 931. Of those botched procedures, an astounding 83 percent were caused by practitioners with no medical training.
Currently, in the United Kingdom, there are no laws on the books stating who can or cannot administer injectable fillers to patients. In fact, you don’t even need to have medical training to inject patients, and anyone can buy fillers online without a license.
“There certainly needs to be better regulation than that in the United Kingdom,” says Dr. Bruce Chau, a plastic surgeon in Berkeley, Michigan. “It’s actually shocking to me that there is no kind of regulation at all for this type of thing, because you can literally kill someone if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
According to Chau, in the United States, states determine who can or cannot administer injectable fillers.
“Here in Michigan, you can get injectable fillers from doctors, dentists and nurse practitioners who are registered with a qualified doctor, but you cannot get it from a cosmetologist or aesthetician,” Chau says. “But to me, even that can be cause for concern.”
That’s because, as Chau points out, just because someone is trained to give an injection doesn’t mean they know where it needs to go and why it shouldn’t go elsewhere.
But while the laws in the United States are far stricter, there are still states that have work-arounds and some that have very little regulation at all.
“The problem is, you can get a lot of these fillers on the internet, even here in America,” Chau says. “You as an individual can order your own fillers and inject yourself at home. Of course, this is a terrible idea, but it’s not impossible. And that’s a huge problem.”
Surgeons like Chau believe it’s in the best interest of the public to seriously reign in who can and cannot perform such procedures in the United States.
“You can see what’s happening in the United Kingdom, and it’s happening here too. These fillers need better regulation all around,” he says. “Dentists and nurse practitioners know more about the face muscles and arteries than a hairdresser might, but a plastic surgeon is intimately familiar with all of these areas, and can do a better, safer job. I personally think doctors should stick to their own specialty. Would you come to a plastic surgeon to get your cavities filled? I would hope not.”