A professional group of medical practitioners in the UK is calling for higher clinical standards in cosmetic surgery - and is spelling an end to so-called Botox parties.
"Bored of Tupperware and Murder Mystery parties? Why not gather together a group of your closest friends and family and host your own Botox/Injectables party?!" says the text on the site of a Cardiff cosmetic treatment clinic called DivaDoc. The clinical director Dr Elena House even does house calls.
House calls for wrinkles and stretch marks?
It's all possible in the UK's cosmetic industry. Beauticians and others with no medical training are allowed to perform Botox treatments and dermal fillers right in the comfort (or discomfort) of your own home.
But some medical professionals are calling for a strengthening of the country's cosmetic industry standards.
In new guidelines just released, the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) says non-surgical cosmetic treatments such as Botox injections and dermal fillers should only be administered by trained doctors, nurses or dentists. It also says such treatments should only take place in clinics with resuscitation equipment.
Botox and dermal fillers are often used to reduce facial wrinkles or "lip enhancement."
Psychological help for patients
The RCS recommends also recommends that practitioners discuss any relevant psychological issues and assess the mental well-being of people before treatment.
But "a single evaluation can't work out underlying problems," says Dr Sven von Saldern, the president of the German Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (DGÄPC).
He believes patients need up to four or five sessions with a psychologist before any underlying problems can be discovered. Von Saldern encourages his patients to seek psychological help before undergoing cosmetic surgery, but says many other surgeons do not.
"I wouldn't even know a single practice that has employed a single psychologist," says Von Saldern.
The RCS also recommends that the industry use more ambiguous language such as "bigger" or "smaller" when recommending what a person may want to change about the physical appearance, instead of qualitative words such "better" or "look nice."
By comparison, Von Saldern says emotive and qualitative language is rare in Germany's cosmetics industry. Likewise, before and after images are banned in Germany. He says there are strict regulations governing the sort of promises a doctor can legally make when discussing medical treatments. And they are required to make sure that patients understand the risks.
German doctors are also bound by regulations on price dumping.
Doctors found to be reducing fees or performing surgery for free can have their medical license revoked by the country's Board of Physicians. The UK does not have such regulations. So, the RCS is calling for a ban special deals for cosmetic surgery.
A global industry
But banning botox parties and making the cosmetic industry highly regulated might not help patients in the long run.
"[Regulation] has to be in balance," says DGÄPC's von Saldern. "If things get restricted, it may drive patients out of the country.
Cosmetic surgery tourism is already widespread and it is a concern to experts. But in a statement to DW, the RCS says its focus is on protecting people in the UK.
The RCS has no regulatory authority. A final decision to act on its proposed regulations lies with the UK's Health Department. It is due to release a review of the country's cosmetic surgery industry in March.
So, if you've planned a Botox party between now and then, don't worry, the authorities won't come calling to shut it down. Not yet.
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