Men, women and even children (unbelievably) are embracing the beauty treatment revolution, whether at home or in a local salon. According to research, in 2017, one in three Britons had received a treatment in either a spa, salon or other treatment area in the past 12 months – although clearly the sector is currently being heavily affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Before the pandemic, UK consumers were estimated to spend £8 billion on treatments in spa, salons, and instore treatment by 2021. Meanwhile, the ‘do it yourself’ beauty treatment market is also booming. Home hair dye kits, waxing products, and permanent makeup are rising trends, to name just a few. As such, claims arising from negligent beauty treatment, or from the use of beauty products at home, are becoming more commonplace as the industry grows. But what about regulation?
‘Regulation’ … a person having a non-surgical cosmetic intervention has no more protection and redress than someone buying a ballpoint pen or a toothbrush.’ Non-surgical interventions, which can have major and irreversible adverse impacts on health and wellbeing, are almost entirely unregulated.
Self-regulation was found to have failed, as unscrupulous providers carried on as before. Even worse, Dermal fillers are injections given to smooth the skin and to help get rid of unwanted lines and wrinkles on the face. They can also be injected into the lips and cheeks to enhance them.
The injections contain either collagen, hyaluronic acid, calcium hydroxylapatite, poly-L-lactic acid, or polymethylmethacrylate beads, and can last between three months and two years, depending on which filler you have opted for. Although it is a relatively painless procedure, a local anaesthetic, cream, or injection is often required. A significant number of new products containing hyaluronic acid have become available over the last five or six years, and have proved highly popular.
Common side effects can be swelling, bruising and infection and the filler can move from where it was originally injected, forming lumps. Although rare, there is also the risk that a filler can obstruct a blood vessel. As the British College of Aesthetic Medicine points out on its website: ‘Be wary of new fillers – the regulations at present are not very demanding so a product can be promoted after minimal testing.’ ‘Dermal fillers are a particular cause for concern as anyone can set themselves up as a practitioner, with no requirement for knowledge, training, or previous experience. ‘Nor are there sufficient checks in place with regard to product quality – most dermal fillers have no more controls than a bottle of floor cleaner. There has been explosive growth in this market, driven by a combination of high demand and high profits in an era when all other commercial income is stalling.’
The impact of negligent treatment
There appears to be an urgent need for regulation. Here are just some of the injuries caused by negligent derma filler treatment; but the long-term effects are unknown, with many experts requesting that urgent studies are carried out so that consumers know the risks.
Common derma filler complications:
• Frozen face
• Severe swelling when the products hardened
In addition to the physical injuries, significant psychological harm can be caused to a person when a cosmetic treatment goes wrong. The problems associated with psychological damage require extensive investigation and would warrant a standalone research paper. Consideration of psychological injury must form part of any proposed regulation in the future and should be a key consideration when you are assessing new enquiries.
Social media creating pressure
In the Times newspaper on 14 May 2019, Conservative MP Alberto Costa argued that there needed to be more regulation in the sector and made the case for a minimum age requirement. This followed concerns made to him by a constituent. He pointed to research by Save Face, which said that 62% of people find their beauty practitioner through social media.
The BBC reported on a study by the Royal Society for Public Health (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39955295), in which young people rated Instagram as the social media platform with the worst impact on mental health. Celebrities and other influencers sharing images of their perfect bodies, faces and lives can lead to young people turning to cosmetic practitioners. It seems likely they will go to whoever will provide the treatment cheapest – without thinking that a quick and cheap procedure has the potential to create long-term physical and mental health problems.
Below are some common issues relating to beauty salons.
Salons or beauticians often do not have the appropriate public liability cover, if any at all. If they do have insurance, it is often basic, and the treatments offered by the beautician or salon sometimes go beyond their insurance cover.
The onus should be on insurers to investigate what treatments are being provided by their policyholders, with wider ranging insurance being offered as standard to such practitioners. Obviously, regulation making insurance obligatory should be the starting point. Customers must also be encouraged to ask about insurance before they proceed with any treatment, whether in a salon or via a mobile beautician.
Some beauty practitioners fail to investigate the customer’s medical history or fail to complete adequate pre-treatment checks or investigations. A simple questionnaire and discussion with the customer beforehand, ideally before the appointment has been booked, could avoid potential injuries.
Training, advertising, and inducements
Other problems include beauticians carrying out treatments without proper training.
Online courses can provide as little a one hours’ worth of training. There maybe no assessment, and participants are presented with a diploma at the end, simply for sitting and watching a video online.
Advertising needs urgent scrutiny. Customers can be tempted by offers such as ‘buy one, get one free’ or time-limited offers. Did someone undergo treatment when the treatment was offered as part of a promotion or were they under time pressure? Needless to say, cosmetic interventions such as Botox or derma filler should not be an impulse purchase and should be researched in advance. Given the huge expansion of the sector and the fact that more horror stories are reaching the media on a weekly basis, damaging a growth sector, action should be taken sooner rather than later by the government. Regulation would also support responsible practitioners who are operating with customer safety at the forefront of their service.
If you have suffered injury following a cosmetic procedure please contact Richard Meggitt, Solicitor for further advice. [email protected]