According to the Daily Mail, the UK is set to ban all cosmetic injectable treatments for underage patients amid a boom in both Botox Cosmetic and filler treatments over the last few years.
Minister for mental health, suicide prevention and patient safety, Nadine Dorries, said the move was to protect children from pressure to achieve “utterly unrealistic” body images. They’re calling the recent popularity of injectables the “Love Island Surge,” and after learning that more than 41,000 procedures were done on underage patients in the last year alone, the “Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act” went into effect.
Currently, in the United States, the FDA has approved the use of neurotoxins in patients over the age of 18 and fillers for patients over 21, but there is no specific ban on performing these treatments on underage patients.
“Let’s be completely clear and establish that in the United States, cosmetic injections are absolutely not FDA approved for children and teens under the age of 18, even with parental consent,” explains Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda C. Honet, MD. “In fact, the majority of dermal fillers, if not all fillers, are approved only for adults 21 years old and older, so although an 18-year-old may legally have the right to consent for themselves, injecting a dermal filler in them is performing the procedure ‘off label.'” Dr. Honet also notes that neither cosmetic neurotoxins nor dermal fillers have been tested on the pediatric population, and these injections may have long-term health implications that cannot be anticipated.
As for the rise in procedures on underage patients, Campbell, CA dermatologist Amelia K. Hausauer, MD says she’s seen the trend shifting to the younger set, but for all the wrong reasons. “There is clearly an increase in injectable procedures performed on minors, which comes from external pressures to conform to a certain beauty ideal as perpetuated on social media,” she says. “I personally discourage those who are under 18 from seeking treatment as outlined by the FDA unless specific circumstances or medical conditions exist where these treatments can have powerful effects on wellbeing and confidence.”
In an essay published in The Mail on Sunday, Dorries expressed her concern about the dangers of having too many injections too soon. “These procedures use substances that are generally given by an injection into the skin and can lead to serious complications – including infections and, in rare cases, blindness. It is not right that children can be so exposed – particularly if they use some of the cowboys who operate in the industry.”
After October 1, there will be a requirement for businesses to verify a person’s age before arranging injectable treatments. Failure to do so will involve persecution. “Of course, where there is a medical need, a doctor will still be able to approve treatment, but this must be administered by a doctor, nurse, dentist, or pharmacist,” she went on to say. Dorries likened the decision to protect underage patients as the age restrictions associated with body modifications like tattoos, teeth-whitening and the use of tanning beds.
Dr. Honet adds that with the rapid rise of facial and body dysmorphia among children and teens, cosmetic injections may even contribute negatively to the psychosocial pathology at play: “Although there may be exceptions to any rule when providing cosmetic treatments safely and ethically to minors, the smartest choice regarding cosmetic injections specifically is to let our children decide for themselves as adults, when they are more capable of making such important, legal decisions and understanding the ramifications of doing so.”
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