Laws to protect the public from botched cosmetic treatments in Scotland are a “global embarrassment” according to a leading practitioner amid plans to tighten rules in England.

People administering Botox or fillers south of the border will soon be required to have a licence under new laws after an “unacceptable” rise in reports of dangerous procedures.

The legislation to protect against rogue practitioners will make it an offence to perform such non-surgical work without a licence after Sajid Javid said “far too many people have been left emotionally and physically scarred” when things have gone wrong.

Edinburgh-based Dr Nestor Demosthenous said it was wrong that regulation was currently focussed on health professionals such as dentists and nurses who are already governed by strict rules.

He said he had recently been contacted by an out-of-hours GP to help a girl who had been injected with a treatment by friend at home and had suffered a “terrible reaction”.

He treated her but said she is likely to be left with irreversible damage to her lower eyelids.

The Scottish Government has said it will set out proposals “in the near future”.
“The regulations in Scotland started off with good intent however have become the joke of Aesthetic Medicine globally,” said Dr Demosthenous.

“The government isn’t doing enough to protect patients. Any who says otherwise is either clueless or lying.

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“The reality is that healthcare professionals who are already governed and held accountable by their regulating bodies (GMC, NMC, GDC) are the ones who are required by law to register with HIS.

The Herald:

“Dangerous practice is unlikely to be found in these clinics. It will be found in salons, living rooms and people’s sheds.

“These ‘practitioners’ are not accountable to anyone. HIS has no authority over them.

“Meanwhile, I would be reprimanded and even taken to the Procurator Fiscal for treating a patient outside of a HIS regulated clinic.

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“It is completely legal for a nail technician to inject an 18 year old girl with filler in the back of a van. To carry out a threadlift procedure, I have to have a minor ops theatre in the clinic as HIS deems it invasive enough to warrant this. “Meanwhile, non medics are allowed to carry out thread lifts on their living room sofa.”

Data obtained by the Herald shows that HIS carried out 260 inspections of independent clinics from February 2019 to February 2022.

However, it does not categorise the clinics based on the type of service they offer so it’s not clear who many were were aesthetic practitioners and only four of the inspections were unannounced.

The Herald:

Dr Nestor said:”HIS have done a great job at helping to improve overall standards for medics.

“It is not within their remit or desire to improve standards in Aesthetic Medicine, or safeguard the public in any way.

“Recently I was called by a colleague in GP out of hours for help with a girl who had been injected by a friend in her living room.

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“Terrible reaction around the eyes. I saw the girl in clinic. Treated. Likely to have irreversible damage to her lower eyelids. Sadly the girl doesn’t want to speak out publicly.

“We are finding this more and more and I can’t say I understand it. “

A government spokeswoman said: “Scottish Government is aware of UK Government’s proposals to include enabling powers for a licencing scheme for unregulated cosmetic procedures in the Health and Care Bill 2021.

“The safety of the public will always be our priority and we know there are concerns about individuals who are not health professionals carrying out cosmetic procedures from premises that are not regulated.

“We have carried out a public consultation on the further regulation of non-surgical cosmetic procedures and will shortly set out the Scottish Government’s proposals to address this issue, taking into account the independent analysis of responses to the consultation.”

The UK Government said an amendment to the health and care bill, due to be tabled on Tuesday, would give the health secretary the power to introduce a licensing regime for these procedures.

The “scope and details” of the new regulations will be “determined via extensive engagement including a public consultation”, the department said.

It follows the introduction of the Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act, which came into force last October and meant people under 18 years of age would no longer be able to receive Botox and dermal lip-fillers for cosmetic reasons.