Parliament report released on the impact of body image on mental and physical health

Today, August 3, the UK’s Health and Social Care Select Committee published a report titled “The impact of body image on mental and physical health.” 

The Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) gave written and oral evidence to the Committee in June and called for a range of specific public protection measures to be put in place as soon as possible within the context of the Government’s new proposed licensing system for non-surgical treatments in England.

The report advises that The Government must accelerate the introduction of a promised licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures "to prevent vulnerable people from being exploited," and recommends that dermal fillers should be prescription-only substances. Responding to this, GP and aesthetics doctor Dr Ahmed el Muntasar said;

"I'm definitely for this and 100% agree with this needing to happen, as it's ridiculous that dermal fillers are not prescription because you can cause so much damage. The reality is that botox is currently prescribed, whereas filler isn't and the damage you can cause with filler is so much more severe. You are at risk of blindness, skin necrosis, the risk of long-term life-changing disability caused by it and that's just not okay."

Importantly, the report identifies a rise in body image dissatisfaction as the driver behind a new and booming market which, for the most part, has been largely unregulated. The dangers posed by non-surgical cosmetic procedures in vulnerable groups were evident throughout the inquiry say MPs.

The Inquiry Team also noted that the Government has new powers to introduce a licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures. However, a consultation on what that should look like is still in the works. The team also remarked that legislation should require online commercial content to carry a logo to identify body images that have been digitally altered and urged the Government to work with the industry and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to discourage advertisers and influencers from doctoring their images.

“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,” said Health and Social Care Committee Chair Jeremy Hunt.

“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.”

Key recommendations to the Government as outlined in the Committee’s report:

Non-surgical cosmetic procedures:

Body image:

“We are delighted that the key issues raised in our representation to the Select Committee have been supported by Jeremy Hunt and his colleagues,” said JCCP chair professor David Sines.

“We very much look forward to continuing our engagement with the Government and health care regulators during the forthcoming months to realise the key objective of embedding patient safety and public protection for members of the public who elect to engage with non-surgical procedures within the context of national enforceable legislation.”

The JCCP says it will continue to call for other additional measures to supplement the proposed licensing system including that extended powers be given to the Care Quality Commission and for the implementation of a national register of approved qualifications and approved education and training providers.

Additionally, the report calls for a Government review of the growing use of anabolic steroids for cosmetic purposes (long-term use of which has been linked with cardiovascular disease and brain changes) and proposes a safety campaign for those at risk.