Recently, the high street retailer Superdrug announced their decision to offer Botox® and dermal filler procedures in one of their stores in London. This decision has been met with a range of reactions, with some professionals criticising the choice and others commending it. So what are the implications of these injectable procedures being so readily available on the high street?
Superdrug : Dr Tapan
Dr Tapan, our medical director, recently took part in a Telegraph web chat to discuss the recent trend of injectables becoming available on the high street and offered a few quotes on the subject.
“The procedures are medical and should be performed in the context of an appropriate consultation. I think this trend can trivialise the procedures and the price point further incentivises people into perhaps making rash decisions.”
“The most important step [when seeking dermal filler or Botox® treatment] is to book a no obligation consultation with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, dentist or nurse. Definitely avoid beauty salons! Also, remember that prices will vary but should reflect the experience and expertise of the injector.”
Superdrug : Patient Safety
Superdrug is currently only offering these treatments to those above the age of 25, where many other clinics offer them to anyone over 18, and will treat patients with Botox® or dermal fillers even if they do not present with indications. This is where patients might be left with harsh or exaggerated appearances as some clinicians do not treat holistically, instead valuing the quantity of product over the quality of work.
“No practitioner should be seeing patients under 18 for cosmetic procedures. After that it depends on what is concerning the patient. Some procedures like lip enhancement are aimed at “beautification”. However we can also use the treatments to correct issues like an under developed chin. In this case it would be reasonable to treat even an 18 year old patient if there was a clinical indication.”
While many think that wider accessibility of these treatments is a positive thing, it must be done in a way that is responsible. When we talk about responsibility, what we mean is that patients should have a consultation with a medically trained professional, who then also performs the treatment. Medical professionals spend years learning about anatomy and structures within the body, and how to treat these effectively for results that look good, but also ensure patient safety at all times.
Due to current lack of regulation, non-medical professionals are allowed to learn to perform dermal fillers, and often do not have the medical basis upon which to do this to a high standard, especially when it comes to delicate or hard-to-treat areas like the eyes. ‘Cooling off’ periods are also advised, to avoid patients making hasty decisions on the spot about something that needs to be thought about. Although these treatments are minimally invasive and non-permanent, they are still a medical procedure, and should be treated as such.
Some have likened this new availability of injectables on the high street to the heavily criticised trend of ‘Botox parties,’ where a group of patients can have an evening of being treated with injectables in a clinic or, most usually, a private residence. These parties have been the subject of reviews and damning reports that highlight the dangers of attending and hosting such events that are very difficult to regulate.
Patients often drink alcohol during these sessions, which has consequences both for their ability to consent to treatments as well as worsening bleeding, bruising, and swelling experienced. These parties clearly pose a problem, and can often target inexperienced or young patients, who may underestimate the procedures and suffer from bad results that can affect the appearance for an extended period of time.