While botox treatments could be hip and happening in Britain, experts have expressed concern about the safety of such cosmetic procedures available easily at many of the high street parlors and clinics. An earlier report published in 2005 had indicated the pronounced risk of hepatitis and vCJD from these treatments at beauty parlors. A massive clean-up campaign has been ordered by the government. The cosmetic industry has been ordered to put a system in place for these treatments.
The announcement to the cosmetic industry has raised the ire of critics who have termed the government's decision as "disappointing" and "irresponsible". The government has been blamed for opting out and giving a free hand to the cosmetic industry to regulate itself in place of a statutory regulation.
There is a huge demand in Britain for cosmetic treatments. Nearly 700,000 procedures took place in Britain in 2005 costing about £360m. Botox injections are easily available at 20,000 high street clinics. Majority of cosmetic surgery is regulated, yet the non- surgical cosmetic treatments like botox and filler injections need an effective system to address safety issues.
Jenny Driscoll, health campaigner said: "There is an increasingly casual approach to non-surgical treatments - just look at Botox parties where people are encouraged to drink champagne before going under the needle. This is a boom sector and our concern is that the rush to make money may result in some businesses cutting corners."
Government reports made public in 2005 had mentioned about the grave risk inherent in such botox procedures. The report had explained the risk inherent in the aesthetic fillers implanted under the skin to improve the sagging features. The fillers owe their origin to dead animals, birds and human cadavers which could be infected with hepatitis and other virus.
Andrew Vallance-Owen, chairman of the working group on cosmetic surgery said: "There is no question that better control of these facilities is needed. We are talking about invasive procedures. Botox is a prescription-only medicine and patient safety should be paramount. If things go wrong, some patients could be left scarred physically or psychologically for life. As it stands now, almost anyone can set up shop in the local high street, don a white coat and start offering dermal fillers or arrange Botox parties. If we - the industry - don't step in, these procedures will be less regulated than ear piercing."
Lord Hunt, the Health minister, did not budge an inch. He confirmed that self-regulation measures taken by the cosmetic industry will be scrutinized in three years. The government will intervene with a statutory regulation, only if the measures employed are proven to be unsatisfactory.