SCOTTISH doctors have warned regulation of the cosmetic treatment industry is "too slow", with an increasing number of complications arising from botched procedures.

Despite a huge rise in popularity in recent years, no training or expertise is required to offer non-surgical cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections and lip fillers.

Two years ago a major UK-wide review of the cosmetic treatment industry, carried out by Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS in England, warned that although fillers could cause lasting harm, they were covered by only the same level of regulation as ballpoint pens and toothbrushes.

Dr Simon Ravichandran, the president and founder of the Association of Scottish Aesthetic Practitioners (ASAP), who set up private aesthetic medicine clinic Clinetix in Glasgow in 2006, said moves to regulate the industry were "slow."

"It is just a slow, slow process and it is taking too long," he said. "You can see that by the increased number of complications we are seeing.

"In my first four years of practice I didn't see a single complication - after that it was maybe one or twice a year I would get people referred to me who have had a problem.

"Now I am seeing one a month as a minimum and the complications vary from simple stuff - such as an implant placed in slightly the wrong place to more serious infections which need to be addressed quite aggressively."

He added: "I have had phone calls from the other end of Scotland, on Sunday afternoons, from people in an absolute panic as they know something has gone horrendously wrong with their patient and they don't know what it is.

"I have seen horrendous complications with severe infections, which if not treated would in 24 hours have resulted in severe facial scarring and disfigurement."

Ravichandran, who is also an ear, nose and throat surgeon, said he wanted to see a national register of practitioners set up and standards to make sure that pre-treatment consultations are carried out and appropriate aftercare is in place.

He said the goal of ASAP - which is holding its annual meeting next Saturday on May 9th - was to promote education and training events among aesthetic practitioners.

"People can go on a simple course, learn how to do something in half a day and then can spend 10 years doing it the wrong way without any sort of supervision," he said: "It is a complete contradiction to the way generally we practice medicine."

An expert group was set up in Scotland to review the recommendations of the Keogh report. A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said the Scottish Cosmetic Interventions Expert Group had finished its work and has now submitted a report, which is currently being considered by ministers.

Figures show more than 45,000 cosmetic surgical procedures such as breast implants, facelifts and nose reshaping were carried out across the UK last year. Moves are also underway to improve regulation in this area of the cosmetic industry.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England said it is planning to publish new UK-wide training standards by early 2016 and set up a process to certify all surgeons who are carrying out cosmetic surgery.

But a spokesman added: "However, to help enforce the qualification across the UK including Scotland, we require a change in the law to allow the General Medical Council to say who on its register of doctors is qualified to undertake cosmetic surgery.

"We are urging all the political parties to act immediately to protect patients, and support such legislation in the first Queen's Speech after the election."

Ken Stewart, consultant plastic surgeon and member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said: "The surgical profession is taking great strides to get its house in order."

But he said the issue of regulation of non-surgical cosmetic treatments was more difficult to address.

"The current situation remains untenable and progress on that seems to have been slower."


How a botched lip filler job almost lead to Nicola losing her lip

When Nicola decided to try having lip filler, she made sure to use someone who had been recommended by friends. The treatment, which cost just over £100, was carried out by a woman at her home - but Nicola had to seek help from Dr Emma Ravichandran at Clinetix when the procedure triggered a condition known as necrosis, which can result in tissue death and scarring.

Nicola, from Glasgow who is in her late twenties and using a different name as she does not want to be identified, said: "A day afterwards the swelling in my lips wasn't going down, it began to swell more and more. I had to leave work early as I almost fainted and was feeling sick.

"I phoned the woman who had done it and she suggested it could possibly be herpes, even though I have never had herpes or a cold sore in my life.

"I eventually got referred to Emma [Ravichandran] - she took one look at me and said it was necrosis and the filler had to be removed right away. When the filler was injected it was pushing against a blood vessel and blocking it - the tissue would eventually have rotted away and left a scar.

"It wasn't necessarily the fault of the woman who did it, it was just an unlucky occurrence - but there was no aftercare. If something goes wrong you want someone to actually be able to deal with the problem and fix it, not have to go and find someone else.

"It was also never explained to me what could have gone - I had never heard of necrosis, but if it had been brought to my attention before as a risk, maybe I would have got help sooner."