If it was up to me, there would be no Botox parties and nobody would be able to buy fillers over the internet. As a fully qualified cosmetic nurse working in the South West, I see too many patients who have had disastrous experiences at the hands of amateurs with no training who just want to make some fast money. The results are often extremely distressing and can be permanent. We all know about the case of actress Leslie Ash who was left with an infamous ‘trout pout’ following lip enhancement.
Many women don’t appreciate the very real risks of developing infections, tissue loss and permanent scarring caused by necrosis or are left with distorted features. Badly administered Botox may leave your looking like the victim of a stroke, frozen for a few weeks with one eyebrow higher than the other, or a droopy eye, but at least it wears off. And you better hope you get the real product. At least, the real thing has been tested and is safe. Fake Botox is flooding in from China and the Far East which bears no relationship to botulinum toxin. If you can buy a vial of Botox over the Internet for less than £170, it isn’t Botox or it has been diluted to make it go further. Fillers can be literally anything. A wonky or oversize silicon lip filler is yours forever, unless you opt for surgery which may save your health, but can never restore your natural looks.
We don’t know the size of the problem because so much is done in basements, nail salons and even in the backs of peoples’ cars. The victims are often too embarrassed to admit what has happened and seek help. Many of the so-called ‘aesthetic experts’ just disappear or melt away. The regulatory landscape for aesthetic procedures is hugely complex and woefully ineffective. So many different statutory regulators cast an eye over our specialist area, but no single body takes overall responsibility. So the medical side (and Botox has to be prescribed by a registered doctor, dentist or prescribing nurse) is overseen by the Medical and Healthcare Regulatory Body, while our premises might be checked by local environmental health officers. Trading Standards deal with commercial issues and the General Medical Council or the Nursing and Midwifery Council oversees professional standards and ethics. No wonder that there is no effective policing and patients have nowhere to turn should something go wrong.
The public have to take responsibility too and choose to use professionals who are regulated, insured, trained and using safe and legitimate products in a safe environment. It might be cheaper and easier to get a Botox jab while you get your nails done, but what do you REALLY know about the person injecting your face? Are you prepared for the devastating consequences if things go wrong? Why take risks with your looks? But the public don’t know what to check or how! I am part of a new organisation, Save Face, which is trying to simplify regulation and help clients tell the difference between qualified professionals and the rogue practitioners who are currently thriving in this sector. We are supporting voluntary self regulation in the absence of state regulation. We have been established to offer a level of quality assurance that has not existed before. Save Face is there for people who want to enhance their appearance safely, We check qualifications and know the difference between fake certificates and the real thing. Our members have all been checked to ensure that they are who they say they are, have the proper insurance and training, and use genuine products in a safe environment. Save Face is there to help the public navigate to safe hands and services and provide support if things go wrong.