The Council has launched a call for evidence on the ethical issues that arise in connection with the increasing availability and use of cosmetic procedures.Invasive cosmetic procedures, including cosmetic surgery and non-surgical techniques such as the use of fillers and Botox, are becoming increasingly popular and accessible in the UK. This raises questions about the potential risks involved in such procedures, particularly given the lack of statutory controls over the qualifications of those who may provide them. The increasing demand for cosmetic procedures has also led to concern that they are becoming ‘normalised’ and viewed as routine, rather than exceptional, ways of changing our appearance.The Council set up a Working Party to explore the ethical issues raised by cosmetic procedures in September 2015, and would now like to hear from as wide a range of people as possible on issues that include:

  • Definitions of what constitutes a ‘cosmetic’, as distinct from a ‘reconstructive’ or ‘therapeutic’, procedure;
  • The social implications of the increasing demand for cosmetic procedures;
  • The regulation of cosmetic procedures, including professional and occupational responsibilities; and
  • The extension of cosmetic procedures to more and different parts of the body.

Professor Jeanette Edwards, Chair of the Council’s Working Party, said: “Concerns over the increasing use of Botox and fillers, as we have seen frequently discussed in the media, highlight some critical questions about the role and responsibilities of health professionals, the adequacy of current regulation, and the potential risks to users. We are also interested in exploring the various drivers for the increasing use of a wide range of surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures, including social and media pressures that influence people’s decisions to seek cosmetic procedures as a way of enhancing or ‘normalising’ their appearance.”The call for evidence is open to everyone, and the deadline for responses is 18 March 2016.Responses to the call for evidence will inform the development of the Working Party’s report, due to be published in spring 2017.

Recent developments (announced Friday 8 January):

Health Education England announces new qualification requirements for non-surgical cosmetic proceduresHealth Education England (HEE) has published two reports aimed at improving and standardising the training available to practitioners who carry out hair restoration surgery and non-surgical cosmetic procedures, such as Botox, chemical peels and laser hair removal. The first report sets out a proposed set of qualification requirements, which would apply to all practitioners, regardless of previous training and professional background. The second report discusses accreditation options, with recommendations for implementation of the requirements.

Establishment of the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP)The British Association of Cosmetic Nurses (BACN) and the British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM) have announced that they will jointly coordinate a process for establishing a new voluntary oversight/regulatory body for the cosmetic medicine sector in England.