Melissa Juried Kriebel
Lip fillers must be made prescription-only like Botox and influencers should be forced to add a disclaimer logo to any photoshopped images, MPs say
- MPs called for a national strategy to deal with body image dissatisfaction
- They called on ministers to discourage influencers from altering their images
- Advocated for end to the ‘conveyor belt’ approach to non-surgical procedures
Lip fillers should be made prescription-only, MPs demanded today in a clampdown on the UK’s cowboy cosmetic market.
Influencers should also be forced to add disclaimer logos to photoshopped images so vulnerable social media users know they’re not natural.
These images, created through various filters, have been blamed for fostering body dysphoria among Britons unsatisfied by how they look.
The Health and Social Care Committee said the Government is ‘not doing enough to understand the scale of the risks’ linked to body image dissatisfaction.
It also called for an end to the ‘conveyor belt’ of non-surgical cosmetic procedures — including lip-fillers and Botox — by bringing forward a licensing regime.
This should include minimum training standards for people providing the services and a ‘cooling off’ period between consent and the procedure.
Under current rules, an aesthetic practitioner in the UK doesn’t need any mandatory qualifications. It means that anyone can go on a training course and then be allowed to perform dermal filler treatments.
Thousands of Britons, mostly young women, get fillers every year. They can cost in the region of £200.
The procedure sees a substance, usually hyaluronic acid, injected into the face to fill out wrinkles or make lips and cheekbones bigger or look more defined.
Its popularity has boomed in recent years as women aspire to look like celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, prompting concern from experts worried that Britons are falling victim to a largely unregulated cosmetic aesthetic industry.
Lip fillers should be made prescription-only and influencers should add disclaimers to photoshopped images, a report by MPs on the House of Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee claimed today
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt says ‘there are a lot of backstreet cowboys where you can turn up and get non-surgical cosmetic procedures done to change your face’
What does the MPs report on body image recommend?
- Dermal fillers should be made prescription-only substances, in line with Botox
- New law so ‘commercial images’ which feature bodies that have been doctored are required to carry a logo
- National disorder eating strategy with increased investment in research
- National review of the growing use of anabolic steroids in England as it relates to body image
- Government to work with advertisers to feature a wider variety of body aesthetics, and work with industry and the ASA to encourage advertisers and influencers not to doctor their images
- Cross-departmental strategy across Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department for Education to tackle the current growing problem of body dissatisfaction and its related health, educational and social consequences;
- Fund new research to understand the causal pathways that are leading to a rise in body image dissatisfaction across the population and the impact of social media on body image
Chairman of the committee, former health secretary 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.’
The report also calls for more to be done to tackle obesity and to help prevent chidden from developing body image issues in early life.
MPs urged the Government to restrict multibuy deals for foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar.
Meanwhile, the Government should review the growing use of anabolic steroids for cosmetic purposes, the group said. MPs proposed a safety campaign for those at risk.
Mr Hunt told Sky News: ‘There are a lot of backstreet cowboys where you can turn up and get non-surgical cosmetic procedures done to change your face, the shape of your nose.
‘We say that shouldn’t be something you can just turn up and get done on the spot, there should be a cooling-off period.
‘And, in particular, there should be an obligation on whoever is conducting that procedure to look into your full history, including your mental health history, and talk about that with you, because it might be that this isn’t actually anything to do with your look, it is to do with mental health issues.
‘The thing to do is to look at the root cause of those problems, not to change your face.’
He added: ‘In some ways, access is too easy for people who are feeling depressed or anxious about their body image.
‘They can go and get these procedures done on the spur of the moment, without proper consideration, and then they find out that it hasn’t actually solved the root problem.
‘We now think that around 60 per cent of 17- to 19-year-olds may have a possible eating disorder, so this is a very dramatic increase over the last couple of decades.
Cosmetic procedures like dermal fillers have boomed in Britain over the past few years as women seek to emulate the looks of celebrities like Kylie Jenner (left) and Kim Kardashian (right)
What are the risks with getting lip fillers?
The beauty industry in the UK is an unregulated ‘wild west’, with clinics not required to register or meet basic hygiene or safety standards.
Ministers are currently preparing to regulate it, however, with plans now making their way through parliament.
The NHS says the risks of getting fillers depend on whether the procedure was done correctly or what filler was used.
Serious complications include:
- An infection;
- A lumpy appearance under the skin;
- Filler moving away from the intended treatment area;
- Blocked blood vessels in the face, which can cause tissue death or blindness.
‘And social media appears to be one of the causes — we call for some research to be done so that we can properly understand that.
‘But, at the very minimum, when commercial companies photoshop images to make people more thin than they would be in real life, we think that should be labelled – we think people looking at those images should know this is not a real human being.
‘And that’s part of the way that we can help people use social media with more awareness, (to know) some of the tricks of the trade if you like, and therefore stop this ever-focus on our bodies, which is so damaging for so many young people, particularly young women.
‘I think the social media landscape is in need of an overhaul in areas like this, particularly when it affects young people.’
Victoria Brownlie, chief policy officer for the British Beauty Council, urged the Government to take the committee’s recommendations forward, adding: ‘We want a beauty industry that stands as a beacon for body positivity with world-leading standards of care.
‘Regulation for non-surgical cosmetic procedures can’t come soon enough and, while the Government has committed to addressing this, current party politics means that such policy changes are in limbo. Timelines are unclear.’
Tom Quinn, director of external affairs at eating disorder charity Beat, said: ‘We welcome the Health and Social Care Committee’s proposal to ensure digitally altered images are clearly marked.
‘Whilst viewing irresponsible advertising or social media images would not be the sole cause of an eating disorder developing, the pressure to conform to a particular body shape or size can have an incredibly detrimental effect on self-esteem and wellbeing, particularly in younger people.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘We know the devastating impact issues around body image can have on a person’s mental and physical health, and we are continuing to take steps to support those affected.
‘As part of our ongoing effort, we will be introducing a national licensing scheme to help prevent exploitation, improve safety and ensure individuals are making informed and safe choices about non-surgical cosmetic procedures.
‘This will build on the existing support we have put in place, from expanding mental health services — including for those with body dysmorphic disorder — with an additional £2.3billion a year by 2024, to changing the law preventing under-18s accessing Botox and filler treatments for cosmetic purposes.’
WHAT IS BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER?
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others.
People of any age can have BDD, but it is most common in teenagers and young adults. It affects both men and women.
Having BDD does not mean you are vain or self-obsessed. It can be very upsetting and have a big impact on your life.
Symptoms of BDD
You might have BDD if you:
- worry a lot about a specific area of your body (particularly your face)
- spend a lot of time comparing your looks with other people’s
- look at yourself in mirrors a lot or avoid mirrors altogether
- go to a lot of effort to conceal flaws – for example, by spending a long time combing your hair, applying make-up or choosing clothes
- pick at your skin to make it ‘smooth’
BDD can seriously affect your daily life, including your work, social life and relationships. BDD can also lead to depression, self-harm and even thoughts of suicide.
You should visit your GP if you think you might have BDD.
If you have relatively mild symptoms of BDD you should be referred for a type of talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which you have either on your own or in a group
If you have moderate symptoms of BDD you should be offered either CBT or a type of antidepressant medication called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
If you have more severe symptoms of BDD, or other treatments don’t work, you should be offered CBT together with an SSRI.