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Folgate Legal’s Vicky-Louise Chapman examines the issue of cosmetic injury and urges caution

Since the beginning of time being beautiful has been a popular aspiration for many women and men alike.

There is no escaping the endless glossy photos of celebrities with their immaculate faces or the perfectly applied filters on social media selfies providing an enhanced look that most of us can only dream of having.  It is important to recognise that social media and other forms of media can shape our understanding of beauty and perfection, often through unrealistic and heavily edited images. It has lifted our beauty standards to an incredibly high level and can lead us to strive towards more drastic procedures to achieve this often impossible ideal.

£14.2 billion last year was spent in Britain on beauty. It seems we love our beauty fix, whether it is a spa getaway or a weekly hair, nail, lash or injectable treatment.

We have been led to believe that to be flawless is to be beautiful and to be beautiful is the key to success.

The quest for this perfect self is not without its problems and, with the unprecedented rise in cosmetic procedures being offered, by practitioners who simply do not have the appropriate experience, we are hearing more and more of the real price of beauty.

We have seen the incredible rise of the social media generation and the spread of images on social media has contributed to the increase in demand for cosmetic procedures.

How many of us have seen a newly qualified cosmetics clinic offering discounted procedures and/or injectables?  How many of us have been tempted and told ourselves it will be okay because the practitioner has undergone the relevant training?  We instinctively assume that most of the products and services we consume must be safe and reliable or ‘they wouldn’t be allowed to do it’.

Unfortunately, the beauty industry is an almost entirely unregulated area and I believe we are being let down by the people who should be protecting us – our government.

The UK Government announced in February 2022 that it would be cracking down on unregulated beauty clinics and that the licensing scheme would introduce consistent standards that individuals carrying out non-surgical cosmetic procedures will have to meet.

It will be no surprise that as of May 2023 further advice is awaited from the Department of Health and Social Care as to their timetable for the implementation of the long-awaited system of legally enforceable licensing.  A sceptic liberal may consider that the Government is not prioritising industry regulation because of the huge income loss that is likely to follow given that most medically-qualified practitioners are VAT exempt.

Save Face, a national register of accredited practitioners who campaign for improved safety standards, said it received 2,824 complaints last year (2022) regarding unregistered practitioners.

I urge anyone considering a cosmetic procedure to ensure they are using a reputable, safe and qualified practitioner. You can visit https://www.saveface.co.uk to check whether a clinic or practitioner is government approved before attending them as there are real risks with having a procedure done by someone who is not medically trained or licensed.

Risks associated with attending an unregulated cosmetics clinic for treatment:

  • A higher risk of infection, bleeding or an allergic reaction.
  • The practitioner may not hold the relevant knowledge to deal with any adverse side effects/complications and know how to treat these.
  • You may need to be hospitalised and/or have corrective treatment.
  • Aesthetic treatments undertaken by a non-medic may result in paralysis of the facial muscles, disfigurement, headaches, facial swelling, impaired vision, bruising, speech problems, and/or your injectables needing to be reversed.
  • Psychological injuries.
  • An unregulated clinic or practitioner may not hold the proper insurance to cover your treatment if it goes wrong.

A medical professional has trained for many years to understand your features, where your arteries and nerves run and how to enhance features using regulated treatments. They will be able to offer the best service without putting you in danger and understand the risks involved with using unlicensed products therefore will only purchase their products through a reputable supplier.  Glowday (https://www.glowday.com/) is a tech-driven marketplace where consumers can find, review and book medically qualified practitioners for non-surgical treatments.

Do not be afraid to ask whether they hold insurance for the treatment you are having.  Any respectable practitioner will be more than happy to confirm this for you. 

I recently visited Chloe Youds of Enhanced, who is a registered medical professional offering advanced beauty treatments.  Chloe is a trained midwife and has been providing beauty treatments since November 2021.  When I coyly checked that she held the necessary insurance before she took a needle to my lips she laughed and said, “of course I have”. I explained to her my role at Folgate Legal and the horrors I have encountered with botched procedures and uninsured practitioners.  It was then my turn to be shocked that not one person had ever enquired with Chloe whether she held insurance.  Chloe says “it’s important that wherever you go you make sure that a license is displayed for their treatments and if you are ever worried or unsure then leave. A lot of practitioners will tell you they don’t need a licence as their insurance covers them, this is untrue and illegal. Never be afraid to ask someone who they are insured with or who their qualifications are with. Any reputable practitioner will be more than happy to share that information with you.”

Whilst most of those in the cosmetics industry follow good practice when it comes to patient safety, far too many people are being left emotionally and physically scarred following cosmetic procedures and then left with no effective recourse afterwards.

More needs to be done for those who suffer injury due to negligence during their cosmetic treatment.  Current industry standard allows for almost anyone to be able carry out procedures without consequence and sadly, the real victims are the individuals who, as a result, end up with substandard outcomes.

We work with clients who are victims in this situation.