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Regulate non-surgical cosmetic procedures within a year to prevent exploitation, urge MPs

2 August 2022

The Government must speed up the introduction of a promised licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures to prevent vulnerable people being exploited. The Impact of body image on mental and physical health report identifies a rise in body image dissatisfaction as the driver behind a new market that to date has remained largely unregulated. The dangers posed by non-surgical cosmetic procedures in vulnerable groups were evident throughout the inquiry, say MPs.

The Government has new powers to introduce a licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures however a consultation on what that regime should look like is still awaited.

Legislation should require online commercial content to carry a logo to identify body images that have been digitally altered while the Government is urged to work with the industry and the ASA to discourage advertisers and influencers from doctoring their images.

The wide-ranging report also calls for a Government review of the growing use of anabolic steroids for cosmetic purposes and proposes a safety campaign for those at risk. Long-term use has been linked with cardiovascular disease and brain changes.

On obesity, MPs were disappointed by a Government decision to delay restrictions on buy-one-get-one-free deals and urge immediate action. The report also calls for further research on tackling obesity while eliminating weight stigma and discrimination.

Chair's comments

Health and Social Care Committee Chair Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt said:

“The government must act urgently to end the situation where anyone can carry out non-surgical cosmetic procedures, regardless of training or qualifications. We heard of some distressing experiences – a conveyor belt approach with procedures carried out with no questions asked, procedures that have gone wrong, the use of filthy premises.

It was clear throughout our inquiry that some groups are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in this growing market that has gone largely unregulated. We need a timetable now for a licensing regime with patient safety at its centre to reduce those risks.

We hope that ministers will listen to our recommendations and set about creating the safety standards that anyone seeking treatment has a right to expect.”

Further information

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