Aesthetic dentists call for an end to dangerous treatment

Aesthetic dentists urge the government to act quickly, as MPs call for more regulation on aesthetic treatments following a shocking body image report.

‘I can’t believe it’s taking this long’: After MPs called for more regulation on aesthetic treatments in light of a new report into body image, aesthetic dentists have urged the government to act quickly.

Aesthetic dentists are urging the government to implement regulations on non-surgical cosmetic treatment.

This comes after MPs and the Health and Social Care Select Committee published a report on the impact of body image on mental and physical health.

The report found a stark rise in body image dissatisfaction throughout the UK.

Additionally, as cosmetic treatments continue to rise in the UK, a new market of unregulated treatment is being driven by this increase in body image dissatisfaction.

Unregulated and dangerous

Kiran Juneja is clinical director and facial aesthetics lead at Face Teeth Smile dental clinic in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.

‘I can’t believe it’s taking the government this long to implement changes. But it’s very promising to now see the JCCP taking action to call on the government to limit who can carry out non-surgical injectable treatments.

‘These treatments should only be carried out by medical professionals who are very knowledgeable about head and neck anatomy and dealing with complications.’

This comes after MPs warned the government that there is ‘a total absence of mandatory education and training standards’ in their report. Currently, anyone can administer non-surgical cosmetic treatment.

Kiran continued: ‘As medical professionals, we go through so much training and continued professional development to ensure upmost patient safety.

‘It’s so important to educate the public and more work needs to be done in the media to make the public aware of dermal filler complications and the importance of seeing a medical professional for these treatments.

In addition, MPs have urged the government to make dermal fillers a prescription-only substances, in line with Botox.

Kiran said: ‘More emphasis needs to be placed on training undergraduate medical and dental students to recognise the signs and symptoms of dermal filler complications.

‘Unfortunately, we are seeing a higher number of complications in secondary care settings (A&E) and doctors are struggling to deal with these complications.’

Zainab Al-Mukhtar is a facial aesthetics practitioner and trainer. She believes body image issues are not spoken about enough.

‘I’ve seen really sad cases of body dysmorphia in both males and females, and extent of distress it can cause can be quite startling.

‘There are lots of red flags for body dysmorphia. One of the red flags is when a patient has severe distress around a certain feature that isn’t marrying up with its severity in how it looks or how disfiguring it is.

‘So somebody might have a perfectly decent chin with no problems, for example, but they are upset with how it looks, such that they are too distressed to leave the house or take photos.’

She added: ‘Beauty trends are another big issue. They are really problematic because they come and go.

‘Unfortunately, the vulnerable fall for it and want it. It takes someone who is medical, wise, and sensible to advise them and say, “This trend will come and go. You will be left with something that is permanent or doesn’t look nice.”‘

Thorough consultations

‘If people undergo aesthetic treatment without a professional psychological assessment for body image issues, they are likely to not be satisfied with the treatment because it their body image issue is very deep rooted.

‘Additionally, they might seek more repetitive treatment which will then end up overdone, or they will still not be happy and ask for remedial treatment.’

As such, the report states that no cosmetic treatment should take place without proper consultation first.

Zainab said: ‘Sometimes it’s unfortunate that a patient will go to the wrong person, such as a beautician without the proper training to carry out the treatment.

‘That means they will not get the proper consultation process and the person who is injecting is not trained or interested in the mental capacity of the patient.

‘They are simply not trained to pick up on these things, so the patients are at risk of not being referred to a counsellor and having repetitive treatments which end up overdone.’

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Protecting vulnerable patients

Dr Alaa Ati is a cosmetic dentist based in London with a special interest in skin health and facial aesthetics.

‘A thorough face to face consultation should be carried out that addresses both a patient’s medical history and mental health,’ she said.

‘The risks of each procedure should be clearly explained to every patient. As well as this, they should be given the option of a “cooling off” period after each consultation.

‘Patient centred care and patient safety should be the core of every assessment. An ethical clinician will always say “no” if a certain procedure is not deemed to be in the best interest of the patient.’

A step in the right direction

Following the report, politicians have demanded that new regulations are put in place ‘within a year’. This is to protect vulnerable people from exploitation.

Alaa said: ‘Although MPs have demanded that new measures are introduced to protect the vulnerable from being exploited, this is something that medical professionals have been campaigning for endlessly.

‘The government needs to act urgently with clear strategies and timelines in place, to improve the regulation of the aesthetic industry.

‘Introducing safety standards, minimum training requirements, licenses, and limitations on who can carry out certain procedures are examples of steps in the right direction that will serve to educate and improve the safety of the public.’

Social media harm

In addition, Kiran believes the government should implement the Norway photo edit law to protect social media users with low self esteem.

This law, implemented last year, ensures that social media users must disclose the edits they have made to their images. As a result, it is hoped the law will reduce body pressure among social media users.

Kiran said: ‘Social media influencers have a responsibility to their followers and should disclaim whether a post has been filtered or modified to reduce body pressure among young people.’

Similarly, the MPs’ report calls on the government to introduce a law in which online images must have a label to signify that the image has been digitally altered.

You can read the full report here.

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