The Mad, Mad World of Medical Aesthetics

Martyn Roe
By Martyn Roe

Founder of - the UK's largest and longest-running aesthetic information website.

It has been reported that a company in Doncaster is once again offering botulinum toxin training to Beauty Therapists. The training courses are advertised on the company website as being available to any beauty therapist of NVQ level 3 or equivalent.

The fact that this is allowed to happen demonstrates the ridiculous lack of legislation in this country regarding medical aesthetics.

In the majority of European countries, botulinum toxin is only allowed to be administered by Doctors. Lasers are, in most European countries, only allowed to be used by Doctors, dermal fillers are, in most European countries, only allowed to be administered by Doctors.

In the UK it seems that we are happy to allow anybody to administer these procedures without any protection from the government or governing bodies!

Mr McGrath may comment: “I think the medical fraternity out there do not like it because [beauty therapists] are stealing the profits of course, it is a very greedy industry", but that is a ridiculous statement to make.

The majority of people involved in the Aesthetic Industry are shocked that this can be allowed. I spoke to a leading member of BABTAC today who commented that it is important to look at the starting point of these therapists. They may have an NVQ level 3 but to get on the course they only need 3 grade C level GCSE’s! 

Do you really want someone with 3 GCSE’s injecting your face with a neuro toxin or a dermal filler or peeling your face with a CO2 laser?

The industry has to act now. The self regulation scheme is a start but it is only that, a start. It needs to be properly backed by law and made public knowledge. The proposed withdrawal of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for the regulation of Lasers and IPL’s  is another example of the ridiculous nature of our industry. Again your 3 GCSE qualified person can fire a laser, IPL and even CO2 laser at you when in the majority of Europe you will have had to have done 6-8 years at medical school to do this.

The same BABTAC person told me they are horrified with the proposal as they provide insurance to therapists for Lasers and IPL and at least the CQC ensured some standards and training!

This all started with remote prescribing, yes it is legal but that doesn’t make it right and certainly it isn’t best practice. Somewhere there is a Doctor who is prepared to write a prescription for these therapists to enable them to get the product. The companies will supply as they have a prescription; it is not their job to police the industry, though they should try to protect their products image more.

So who’s job is it?

The MHRA technically should be dealing with this and it would be nice to see the various associations out there, doing more to put pressure on them to act and act quickly, though some may have to get their own membership in order first!

This is not about protectionism, botulinum toxin is a prescription only medicine (POM) and as such should only be provided after a full consultation with a practitioner with prescribing powers. As it is an aesthetic procedure, the consultation MUST be face to face, or how can they decide if it is suitable for you? Dermal fillers are not POM in the UK and indeed Europe, however in most of Europe it can only be administered by a medically trained professional.

Now some dermal fillers contain the local anaesthetic Lidocaine, a POM with a known record of patient sensitivity.

How, when water administered by injection is a POM can this only be classed as a medical device?

The EU tells us we have to have straight bananas, so why can’t we adopt the more sensible of European laws?

Did you know that to inject or carry out a medical procedure on a dog or any other animal you have to be qualified as a vet and yet to inject a person you just need a hand!

Welcome to the mad, mad world of Medical Aesthetics!


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