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Botox and filler
Photography Donna Trope

England bans under-18s from Botox and fillers to prevent harmful treatments

TextHannah Bertolino

Failure to comply could result in ‘criminal prosecution and an unlimited fine’

During the pandemic, those of us stuck indoors spent hours staring into our own unfiltered faces on Zoom, along with the photoshopped faces of others across social media. Since then, a major boom in the cosmetic treatment business has been reported – with the government estimating that up to 41,000 Botox-style procedures were carried out on minors over the last year.

Now – in an effort to protect young people from harm – a new law in England has banned people under 18 years-old from receiving Botox and dermal lip-fillers for cosmetic purposes.

Commencing last Friday (September 24), the Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act also prohibits plastic surgeons from administering the products to minors and adults from signing up under-18s for the procedures. Other restrictions cover minors entering England from other countries and those with permission from those over 18 years-old.

According to the legislation, failure to comply could result in “criminal prosecution and an unlimited fine”. There are, however, some ways around the new ruling: non-Botox and dermal filler procedures such as ‘fox-eye’ thread lifts are not included in the ban, as well as procedures for health reasons – such as Botox to prevent migraines. 

Health minister Nadine Dorries, who announced the ban last month, noted that there has been a significant increase in teens seeking an “Instagram Face” – supposedly referring to the appearances of social media figures who have received plastic surgery. “No child needs cosmetic procedures unless for medical reasons. Their physical and mental development is not complete,” she wrote in the Daily Mail.

The new legislation follows news of a group of MPs calling on the government to address the absence of regulation surrounding cosmetic treatments from last July. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics, and Wellbeing (APPG) – who condemned the “wild west” beauty industry – noted that while Botox is required to be administered by a doctor or nurse, other beauty treatments, such as filler and laser treatments, do not require professional qualifications, leading to an increase in serious health risks. 

“For too long there have been next to no limits on who can carry out aesthetic treatments, what qualifications they must have, or where they can administer them,” explained Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP, co-chairs of the APPG. “We launched this inquiry as we were deeply concerned that as the number of advanced treatments on the market continues to grow, the regulation remains fragmented, obscure and out of date which puts the public at risk.”

The APPG also presented the government with a list of 17 recommendations in hopes of creating a new legal framework to ensure safe practices for cosmetic treatments. The list includes suggestions to make fillers prescription-only, psychological pre-screenings for beauty treatments, advertising restrictions for dermal fillers, and a national government-supported licensing scheme.

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