Health experts in Wales are calling for increased regulation of non-surgical facial aesthetics treatments.

In an industry worth almost £3 billion in the UK, aesthetic procedures such as dermal fillers and botulinum toxins can cause cause blindness and disfigurement if carried out incorrectly by non-healthcare professionals.

Limited regulation

‘Areas which are common for fillers are around the eyes and frown lines’, explained GP Dr Nimish Shah.

‘Unfortunately, these blood vessels do feed back into the eye.

‘If you were to block that blood vessel with filler, that can lead to permanent damage to the eye and it can cause blindness.’

Despite the potential health risks involved with non-surgical aesthetics, the industry is governed by little regulation.

Practitioners are not legally required to undergo training or possess specific qualifications.

In 2013, the UK government commissioned a review into cosmetic procedures (Review of the regulation of cosmetic interventions, Keogh, 2013).

The report warned that non-regulation of non-surgical aesthetic procedures was ‘a crisis waiting to happen’, and that dermal fillers are covered by the same regulation as ballpoint pens and toothbrushes.

Action in Wales

In May, the Welsh Assembly introduced a new law to regulate procedures such as tattooing and body piercing, but the law does not apply to dermal fillers, despite many health organisations arguing for them to be included.

The Welsh Assembly told ITV Wales that it wanted to let councils embed the new licensing scheme for procedures such as tattooing, before introducing any new ones.

But the government admits it is concerned about the risks of dermal fillers, and it may introduce regulation in the future.