Regulate non-surgical cosmetic procedures within a year, MPs urge UK government

By Julia Wray | Published: 2-Aug-2022

Call for swifter change follows the publication of a body image report, which also pushes for legislation to identify body images that have been digitally altered

A cross-party committee is putting pressure on the UK government to introduce a promised licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

The House of Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee recently released its report on ‘The impact of body image on mental and physical health’, and is today pushing for regulation within the year to prevent vulnerable people from being exploited.

The Health and Social Care Committee Chair, Jeremy Hunt, said: “The government must act urgently to end the situation where anyone can carry out non-surgical cosmetic procedures, regardless of training or qualifications.

“We heard of some distressing experiences – a conveyor belt approach with procedures carried out with no questions asked, procedures that have gone wrong, the use of filthy premises.

“It was clear throughout our inquiry that some groups are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in this growing market that has gone largely unregulated. We need a timetable now for a licensing regime with patient safety at its centre to reduce those risks.

“We hope that ministers will listen to our recommendations and set about creating the safety standards that anyone seeking treatment has a right to expect.”

The UK government is said to have new powers to introduce a licensing regime for such procedures.

However a consultation on what that should look like is still awaited.

In its report, the committee recommended that the new licensing regime include a two-part consent process for anyone considering a non-surgical procedure; this would feature a full medical and mental health history, as well as a mandatory 48-hour 'cooling off’ period between the consent process and undergoing the procedure.

It also called for specific premises standards for all beauty salons and non-CQC (Care Quality Commission) registered premises providing non-surgical procedures, as well as a minimum standard to be met regarding education and training, and for dermal fillers to be prescription-only substances, in line with Botox.

In addition to welcoming the decision to prohibit advertising for cosmetic procedures to under-18s, the report further recommended the establishment of a ‘Non-Surgical Cosmetic Procedures’ safety taskforce of regulatory bodies and stakeholders.

It also recommended the new licensing regime should include the requirement to display a kitemark and a warning logo on any ads for treatments.

Beyond aesthetic procedures, the body image and mental health report also discussed digital image doctoring.

According to the committee, legislation should require online commercial content to carry a logo to identify body images that have been digitally altered.

The government is also being urged to work with the industry and the region’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to discourage advertisers and influencers from doctoring images.

The report stated: “We call on the government  to work with advertisers to feature a wider variety of body aesthetics, and work with industry and the ASA to encourage advertisers and influencers not to doctor their images.

“We believe the government should introduce legislation that ensures commercial images are labelled with a logo where any part of the body, including its proportions and skin tone, are digitally altered.”

Other issues flagged in the report, released 19 July, included the need to review the growing use of anabolic steroids for cosmetic purposes and strategies to tackle obesity.

You may also like