Patients or consumers for cosmetic facial treatments?
John Makin says dental professionals need to be cautious when marketing cosmetic facial treatments.
Two new documents appeared in my inbox recently that highlighted the need for dental professionals to tread cautiously when promoting cosmetic facial treatments to patients.
Firstly, the General Dental Council’s (GDC) latest Patients and Public survey.
This looks at the views of more than 1,500 adults on their experiences of going to the dentist.
It found that the majority of adults felt comfortable with the promotion of cosmetic treatments via surgery advertising on posters and leaflets.
However, people were less comfortable with dental professionals promoting such treatments in person, particularly when unprompted.
One person commented that if they were offered botulinum toxin treatment: ‘I’d get up out of the chair and walk off straightaway and report them for offering me something I don’t need.’
At the same time, the committee for Advertising Practice and the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has published an enforcement notice.
Its aim is to tackle the unlawful advertising of botulinum toxin injections on social media.
Cosmetic facial treatments
Botulinum toxin injections are prescription-only medicines.
Regulators do not allow advertising to the public, even when a registered healthcare professional administers them.
The ASA has issued guidance and intends to act against anyone failing to comply.
This could include referral to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency or to the GDC.
While the campaign relates to social media, dental professionals should review all their marketing material.
This include practice websites and leaflets, to ensure compliance with the ASA guidance and the law.
Standard 1.7 of the GDC’s Standards for the Dental Team states: ‘You must put patients’ interests before your own or those of any colleague, business or organisation’, and: ‘You must always put your patients’ interests before any financial, personal or other gain’.
Patients seeking out cosmetic treatment may be psychologically vulnerable, and treatment is often irreversible and relatively costly.