MPs have urged the Government to speed up the introduction of a promised licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures to prevent vulnerable people being exploited.

A health and social care committee (HSC) report on the impact of body image on mental and physical health identified a rise in body image dissatisfaction as the driver behind a new market that it described as ‘largely unregulated’.

The dangers posed by non-surgical cosmetic procedures in vulnerable groups were evident throughout the inquiry, said the group of MPs.

The Government has new powers to introduce a licensing regime for such procedures, however a consultation on what that regime should look like is not yet underway.

Key recommendations from the Committee’s report included:

  • The introduction of a new licensing regime by July 2023
  • For minimum standards on education and training for administering practitioners
  • The establishment of a safety taskforce; and for a two-part consent process which should include full medical and mental health history with a 48-hour cooling off period

The report also said that dermal fillers should be made prescription-only substances, in line with Botox, a move backed by pharmacists last year.

In addition, it urged the Government to review of the growing use of anabolic steroids for cosmetic purposes and proposed a safety campaign for those at risk.

It also called for the immediate introduction of restrictions on multibuy deals on food and drinks high in fat, salt, or sugar, including buy-one-get-one-free deals – planned restrictions which were delayed earlier this year.

Meanwhile, it urged the Department for Health and Social Care to do more to make the diagnosis and treatment of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) a priority.

It also said frontline practitioners should be trained in how parents and carers can positively influence their children’s feelings about their bodies through the behaviours and attitudes they express.

HSC chair 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 Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act came into force in England last October, preventing young people from being able to get cosmetic injections.

Superdrug introduced stricter mental health checks for customers using its Botox service three years ago.

Superdrug introduced stricter mental health checks for customers using its Botox service three years ago.

And a report earlier this year said that pharmacies should offer NHS health checks to help tackle obesity.