Dr Sean Fitzpatrick and Dr Jennifer Owens of the Irish Faculty of British College of Aesthetic Medicine are calling for regulation of non-invasive procedures such as dermal filler.

Doctors say dermal filler treatments must be regulated

The Irish Faculty of the British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM) is calling on the Minister of Health to implement changes to protect doctors and their patients against the unregulated administering of dermal filler.

Non-surgical aesthetic procedures are medical interventions and should be treated as such, with the utmost consideration for patient well-being, they say.

Dr Eithne Brenner, Dr Jennifer Owens, Dr Sean Fitzpatrick and Dr Peter Prendergast of BCAM have raised concerns for patient safety and want to establish a framework to oversee clinics offering aesthetic procedures across the country.

Currently botulinum toxin A (Botox and other brands) remains a prescription-only medicine (POM) under the administration of qualified doctors and dentists. However, dermal filler, an equally invasive treatment, is not subjected to the same stringent regulations. Unlicensed aestheticians and even the general public can administer filler without proper expertise, potentially putting public health at risk.

The Irish faculty of BCAM say they want to see stricter regulation and control of dermal fillers, surgical threads, and deep chemical peels to ensure that only qualified medical professionals perform these procedures.

Dermal filler can have serious potential complications associated with its administration, including stroke, blindness and skin necrosis. The reversal agent for filler complications, hyalase, is only available with a prescription, causing further concerns about patient safety. In the event of infections caused by fillers, unlicensed aestheticians cannot prescribe the reversal agent, antibiotics or steroids, which can lead to life changing outcomes for those affected.

Speaking about the lack of regulation, Dr Patrick Treacy, advisor to The ROI Faculty of BCAM had this to say. "Even if it is something that occurs within the private sector the inability of a public doctor to either diagnose or refer a patient to the relevant authorities verges on medical negligence, especially as this is a medical emergency where the patient is facing gross ischemia to their face. It is also of questionable medical ethics to defer treating a patient with a medical emergency because they received treatment on the private side."

The BCAM wants the advertising of cosmetic procedures to be standardised in collaboration with the Medical Council and Dental Council, which will promote transparency and inform patients about potential risks. They say that strict regulations should also be implemented for aesthetic courses to ensure qualified instructors teach the procedures.

In Europe, unqualified aestheticians are facing prosecution for causing harm to patients through filler treatments, categorised as assault and gross bodily harm.