Harry Singh considers the risks posed to the public by the lack of regulation in the UK when it comes to non-invasive facial aesthetic treatments, and how the dental profession can help to secure the safety of their patients
The Keogh Review, published in the wake of the Poly Implant Prothèse breast implants scandal, made alarming revelations in relation to aesthetic treatment. The report stated: ‘A person having a non-surgical cosmetic intervention has no more protection and redress than someone buying a ballpoint pen or a toothbrush.’
Almost six years later, we are still struggling to ensure everyone who puts themselves forward for cosmetic treatment of any kind receives the highest possible standard of care.
Yes, dentists who enter the world of non-invasive facial aesthetic treatment are well schooled in best practice, in part due to our inherent ethical and moral compasses, but also because of GDC requirements. But the sad truth is a lot of what is done in the pursuit of ‘improved’ aesthetics remains unregulated. According to the Consumer Complaints Audit Report 2017-18, a whopping 83% of treatments complained about were carried out by beauticians, hairdressers and other laypeople.
The market has had some bad press, mainly due to this lack of regulation. It is a shame to read negative stories about any branch of medical or dental treatment that may offer successful outcomes in the right hands. However, if it serves to raise awareness among the public there is a problem that requires proactive research on their part to remain safe, so be it.
One such avenue is offered by appropriately trained, competent, and indemnified dentists and dental hygienists/therapists. We are ideally placed to offer patients safe and effective facial aesthetic treatments like botulinum toxin (NB this is a prescription-only medicine) and fillers because we are experts in facial anatomy, and understand the various injection techniques.
In addition, of course, we are schooled in infection control procedures and dealing with medical emergencies, as well as already having that all-important bond of trust and rapport in place.
Change is afoot
In response to Keogh, the government asked Health Education England (HEE) to develop a framework for the industry. This framework covers not only medical and dental professionals, but also, for example, beauty therapists. The reality is it will be very difficult for non-clinicians to meet these standards – but not impossible. For now, there is no organisation that can stop non-clinicians performing facial aesthetic treatments that do not need a prescription.
However, the HEE report outlines seven levels of competence, with Level 7 representing the minimal safe standard, achievement of which requires a postgraduate level of knowledge and hands-on training, as well as observing procedures being performed.
Level 7 enables dentists and their teams to futureproof training for any regulation that may occur, meeting HEE qualification requirements for delivery of cosmetic procedures. It is also worth noting that legitimate course providers will accept only three sorts of GDC-registered dental professionals – dentists, dental therapists and dental hygienists.
If you are interested in a career in non-surgical facial aesthetics, BTC is one of a few training companies offering Level 7 injectables training for aesthetic medicine. It provides a comprehensive syllabus that ensures delegates can set up their own practice, gain employment in a cosmetic clinic, or simply offer aesthetic treatments to existing patients.