The largely unregulated British cosmetic surgery industry is a “cause for serious concern”, especially for children targeted by advertising and online plastic surgery games, health experts have warned.
A new report from the Nuffield Council of Bioethics highlights increasing concerns over anxiety related to unachievable appearance ideals – with young people said to be “bombarded” by promotion of breast implants, nose jobs, and non-surgical procedures such as botox and laser hair removal.
The think tank called for all cosmetic surgeons to be properly trained and certified, for a ban on non-medical invasive procedures for patients under 18, and for evidence of safety and effectiveness to be required for dermal fillers and implants.
It said treatments such as lip and skin fillers, which can currently be offered by practitioners who have no formal training, have grown in popularity but should be regulated in the same way as tattoos and sunbeds.
“Under 18s should not be able to just walk in off the street and have a cosmetic procedure,” said Jeanette Edwards, professor of social anthropology at the University of Manchester, who chaired the enquiry.
“There are legal age limits for having tattoos or using sunbeds. Invasive cosmetic procedures should be regulated in a similar way.”
The council said there should be better regulation of the materials used in procedures such as dermal fillers, used to plump up cheeks and lips or fill out wrinkles and creases in the skin, which can currently be bought in Britain without a formal safety or quality approval.
It also said the Government must bring forward legislation to make all dermal fillers available on prescription only.