Teenagers under the age of 18 have been banned from having Botox and Cosmetic Fillers. The government has acted after a surge in demand for these treatments following the popularity of shows like Love Island.
Self-conscious and fashion-focused teens have been booking botox and filler appointments in a bid to reach the perfect Instagram face after the influence of socialites on reality shows like ‘Love Island’.
The UK’s Health Minister justified the Act’s introduction by saying: “We’re all under constant pressure to look our best. We are bombarded by advertisements and on social media with images of bodies that are utterly unrealistic for us to have any hope of matching.”
She continues to say it isn’t a surprise as “a recent poll showed that 80% of girls and young women have considered using surgical procedures to change their appearance, with the primary reason to improve their self-confidence.”
What is the Botox and Cosmetic Fillers (Childrens) Act 2021?
The new ‘Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act’ was passed earlier this year and makes it illegal to provide either procedure to under 18s for cosmetic reasons.
The tough new Act came into effect on the 1st October 2021. It is now illegal to provide Botox or Cosmetic Filler treatment to anyone under the age of 18, unless needed explicitly for clinical reasons.
Under 18s can still have Botox but ONLY for medical purposes and if recommended by a qualified doctor.
Furthermore, it is an offence to make arrangements for, or book an appointment to provide, these treatments to any person under-18 in England. Only when offering for beautification purposes does it become a criminal offence.
The Act requires a doctor, a registered medical practitioner, or a health professional to administer the injections to under-18s in any medical case. It can no longer be given by a medical assistant.
What if the treatment is needed for clinical reasons?
Under the new law, treatments can still be approved for use on persons under-18 by a registered medical practitioner, but only if it is for medical reasons and not an aesthetic one.
Doctors have been recommended to, as per their usual practice, follow the guidance and standards issued by their regulator, the General Medical Council, when considering the use of either product on under-18s.
Who does the Botox and Cosmetic Fillers Act apply to?
The law applies to everybody in England, not just businesses. This includes any providers of clinical healthcare services and regulated healthcare professionals working in a whole host of sectors.
Failure to comply with the new law could result in a criminal prosecution and an unlimited fine. This will be judged on a case-by-case basis.
Nadine Dorries, Health Minister, said: “This change is aimed to protect young people from the potential health risks of Botox and fillers, and brings the use of such procedures into line with age restrictions that apply to body modifications such as tattoos, teeth-whitening and the use of sunbeds.”
The Minister continues to reveal that she herself has used Botox in her past and feels that it is properly managed for adults. However, she is adamant that the government must and needs to act to protect the health of younger people.
Dorries revealed that failing to verify the age of customers before an appointment even takes place will lead to prosecution. The consequences will remain strict and strong due to recent figures published by the Department of Health; which reveal that more than 41,000 procedures were done on underage patients in the last year alone.
Cosmetic Campaign group, Save Face received 2,083 complaints over failed treatments over the last year. For comparison, Save Face only received 217 complaints 5 years ago in 2016.
‘Love Island Surge’ + ‘Instagram Face’
This recent surge in the popularity of injectable treatment amongst the younger generation has been dubbed the ‘Love Island Surge’.
Modern social media stars and TV shows like ‘Love Island’ and ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ have become influencers in getting young consumers into cosmetic treatment. In fact, following the premiere of this year’s Love Island, there was a 37% rise in searches for lip filler appointments for two weeks, according to campaign group Save Face.
Some cosmetic clinics are taking the connection and influence a step further by offering packages based on the looks of Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, going as far as to name packages after the stars.
Health Minister Dorries referred to this surge as people wanting an ‘Instagram Face’ in real life. As a result, they end up “seeking cosmetic procedures such as Botox and fillers to give them the high cheekbones, cat-like eyes and full lips seen in the heavily airbrushed photos that celebrities post on social media.”
The attention well and truly turned to Love island earlier this year when contestants, Sharon Gaffka and Faye Winter, were angered by another contestant degrading fake looks.
Another former Love Island contestant, Molly-Mae Hague, also revealed that she has reversed lip fillers and other treatments she had as a teenager as she now opts for a more natural look.
Unfortunately, this has led to botched procedures in patients under the age of 18 and a wider discussion on regulation has erupted, thrusting governmental response into the spotlight.
The Health Minister continues: “Far too many people have been left emotionally and physically scarred after botched cosmetic procedures. So, we are continuing to work closely with organisations to assess the need for stronger safeguards around potentially harmful cosmetic procedures.”
Nadine Dorries finished by saying: “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.”
Member of Parliament, Laura Trott, who introduced the Act, put it quite simply and perfectly: “No child needs cosmetic botox or fillers”.
There are many clinical and legitimate reasons for using cosmetic treatments. However, it is disappointing and untoward that teenagers are being manipulated into thinking they need to attain ‘perfect’ standards.
The previously unregulated botox and filler industry was worth an estimated £2.75 billion. It was the wild west region of the cosmetic industry but has now been tamed and stabilised.