Surgeons: ‘Someone will have to die before we regulate plastic surgery’

Surgeons have warned that someone will have to die before plastic surgery is regulated.

The Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons (IAPS) said this week’s conviction of a beautician for performing illegal Botox treatments highlighted the need for stronger regulation. The woman, who is from Russia, had also unlawfully imported the drug that is usually injected into facial muscles and is subject to prescription control.

The IAPS released a statement yesterday pointing out it had repeatedly made representations to both the medical authorities and to politicians to tighten up the entire area of medical beauty treatments.

As the law stands, someone with no medical training can inject fillers into a person’s face.

“How many times must we ask for stronger regulation before there is a fatality,” the IAPS asked.

IAPS president, Dr Margaret O’Donnell, said the scandal had gone on for far too long.

“Vulnerable people are being damaged because the authorities, for reasons we cannot understand, will not regulate the industry better and enforce what regulations there are,” said Dr O’Donnell.

“We have issued warning after warning about unqualified and untrained people performing procedures that should require years of training,” she said.

“If you don’t understand the anatomy of what’s going on under the skin; if you haven’t studied the pharmacy behind every aspect of what a filler or ‘Botox’-type products can do to the body, then you are putting patients at risk.”

Dr O’Donnell said even doctors who called themselves cosmetic surgeons were confusing the public.

There had been cases where doctors, calling themselves cosmetic surgeons, were performing plastic surgery.

A fully-qualified surgeon would have completed around 15 years’ training and continued to train every year in an area of medicine that is evolving rapidly.

Doctors who have not completed the training can not appear on the Medical Council’s register of specialists in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery.

“It’s rare enough in Ireland that professions want more regulation and not less. As medical doctors, we do so in the hope of avoiding further serious scandals and injuries to the general public.”

Dr O’Donnell said there should be a standardised register for both surgical and non-surgical treatments so people could see the qualifications of those offering them.

The IAPS has been involved in the development of a European standard for surgical treatments and one is soon to be developed for non-surgical treatments.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority, formerly the Irish Medicines Board, said it continued to warn the public not to source or buy medicines from unregulated sources.

“There is no way for consumers to know what substances such products actually contained and consequently, they could pose a serious risk.”

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