A high-profile neurologist has called for government regulation of the cosmetic use of Botulinum toxin.
Dr Marie-Helene Marion believes that the proper administration of Botox has been hijacked by people working in the beauty therapy and leisure industries, and says current UK regulation is inadequate.
The use of Botox has increased in dentistry in recent years due to the soaring popularity of facial aesthetics offered by many cosmetic dentists.
Dr Marion, consultant neurologist at St George’s Hospital in London, was a pioneer in the medical application of Botulinum toxin in France (where its use is strictly controlled), and regularly uses the drug in her private practice in London.
She said: ‘In many ways Botulinum toxin is remarkable, a miracle drug perhaps. It can be used for treating many disabling medical conditions.
‘Today Botox is treated as a lifestyle product, like sun cream or lip gloss. While Botulinum toxin itself is not addictive, some patients hope that changes in their appearance will be associated with changes in their personal life, and thus seeking treatment for the wrong reasons. Doctors have a role in helping these patients to understand the realistic goals of cosmetic treatments.’
Dr Marion insisted she had no objection to the cosmetic application of Botox, but stressed that only a doctor who is trained in the use of Botulinum toxin and facial anatomy should administer the injections.
She also believes that public debate on the subject should focus on the fact that Botulinum toxin can be toxic at higher, non-therapeutic doses.
‘The government has rejected calls for tighter controls on the cosmetic uses of Botulinum toxin, which leaves the UK as the only European country where the drug can be administered by non-medical staff,’ she added.
‘There should be a more open debate to protect the public from Botulinum toxin being injected indiscriminately by non-medical staff.’