The government has launched a new consultation on how to make non-surgical cosmetic procedures, such as Botox and fillers, safer for the public in England.

The move follows thousands of complaints around ‘botched’ procedures and aims to help inform a new licensing scheme for practitioners and cosmetic businesses.

Launched over the weekend, the government is seeking views on whether ‘high-risk’ cosmetic procedures, such as injecting fillers into intimate parts of the body, should only be carried out by qualified and regulated healthcare professionals.

In addition, the consultation proposes age restrictions for some procedures and considers whether high-risk procedures should only be carried out within providers registered with the Care Quality Commission.

Views gathered will be used to shape a new licensing scheme for practitioners and cosmetic businesses which operate in England – mooted by the government last year.

The action from ministers regarding the cosmetics industry comes as Save Face – a government approved register of accredited practitioners for aesthetic treatments – received almost 3,000 complaints in 2022, with more than two-thirds relating to dermal fillers and almost a quarter relating to Botox.

Minister for the Women’s Health Strategy Maria Caulfield said: ‘Whether it’s Botox, dermal fillers or even a chemical peel, we have heard too many stories of people who’ve had bad experiences from getting a cosmetic procedure from someone who is inexperienced or underqualified.

‘There’s no doubt that the popularity of cosmetic procedures is increasing, so it’s our role to ensure consistent standards for consumers and a level playing field for businesses and practitioners.’

She added: ‘We want to make sure we get this right for everyone, which is why we want to hear your opinions and experiences through our new consultation.’

Professor David Sines, chair of the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners, said the consultation would help to ‘ensure that people who undergo non-surgical cosmetic procedures receive treatment from practitioners who are properly trained and qualified, have the necessary insurance cover and operate from premises that are safe and hygienic’.

Meanwhile, Victoria Brownlie, chief policy officer at the British Beauty Council, said: ‘Those seeking treatments deserve to do so with confidence that their practitioner is properly qualified in the service they’re offering, to the appropriate level of government approved educational standards.’

This is the government’s first-ever consultation on aesthetics treatments, and it will close in eight weeks on Saturday 28 October.

It comes after the passing of the Health and Care Act in April 2022, which gave the health and social care secretary the power to introduce a licensing regime. Under the proposed scheme, practitioners would need to be licensed to perform specific procedures, and the premises from which they operate will also need to be licensed.

A version of this article was first published by our sister publication Nursing in Practice