Why the cosmetic industry has a responsibility to ban under 18’s

Botox treatmentreport by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has come out stating under 18s should be banned from getting botox, fillers and plastic surgery, with a push to tighten restrictions on makeover apps & online plastic surgery games for under 18s after reports girls as young as 8yrs old have been targeted for advertising.

We live in an insta world – consuming images of beautiful women in varying filters and it’s this that raises the argument that impressionable girls and women alike are losing touch with what is real. The apps and online games are therefore only further contributing to anxiety around body image and are being a key stimulator for these children and teenagers to want to change their image.

What are the risks in treating under 18’s?

As health professionals, we are obligated to make decisions based on what will improve the quality of someone’s life and as a teenager there is too much in flux to be certain that it will have a positive effect.

The two factors on why there should be a ban on cosmetic procedures for under 18s are;

  1. Vulnerable psychology
    Throughout your life, you perceive yourself differently – but particularly in your teens, it’s much more acute and varying. A tiny blemish or bump on the nose can feel like a life or death situation. So, their developing psychology isn’t in a place of stability
  2. Developing features
    As a teenager, your body and face will be changing quite a lot. Anything to do with facial shaping such as chins, cheeks and noses are going to change enormously as they get older

The risk is you’re doing a procedure to people who are not in the best place to be making decisions.

What issues do we face as an industry?

The main issue the industry faces every single day is it’s unregulated. A 16 year old can walk into an aesthetics clinic or beauticians (see previous article on non-medical aesthetics training by SkinViva Training) with an unethical practitioner and receive treatment – regardless if it’s right for them in terms of proportions, psychologically and age. This isn’t just young girls, this across the board. We call this the vending machine approach.

We genuinely care about raising standards across the board for the UK aesthetics industry, from our SkinViva clinic in Manchester right through to our SkinViva Training courses exclusively for qualified medical professionals.

If there is a risk you could do a technically good procedure but it’s not actually psychologically benefitting them, then it’s not a good procedure! The aesthetics industry needs to be in a place where every day we as medical professionals are making psychologically, helpful procedures rather than procedures that people just ask for – regardless of age.

SkinViva’s very own, Dr Felicity, featured on BBC 5 Live on how young people are turning to cosmetic procedures such as facial fillers as a result of social media pressure (listen here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p056lw32).

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