Industry body and local government call for action on ‘risky’ procedures and cosmetic treatment market
Complaints about non-surgical Brazilian butt lifts and breast enhancements have risen at an “alarming” rate, up from fewer than five to 50 in a year, an industry body has revealed.
Save Face, a national, government-approved register of accredited non-surgical treatment practitioners, is calling for the procedures to be banned, while the Local Government Association has asked Westminster to take urgent action.
Ashton Collins, the director of Save Face, said the organisation had noted an “alarming” increase in complaints about these enhancements, which she said should be banned.
Collins said: “No reputable healthcare professional would offer these treatments as they are very high risk.
“It’s a new and incredibly dangerous trend which has emerged from social media, a trend people think is a cheaper, risk-free alternative to the surgical counterparts. All the cases reported to us have been carried out by non-healthcare practitioners who have prioritised profits ahead of the safety and wellbeing of their clients.
“These treatments are incredibly risky, and we have helped people who have contracted sepsis and have had to undergo surgery to remove the filler. In 2021, we had fewer than five complaints about these treatments. That figure has increased tenfold in the past year alone and we are getting more and more complaints each week.”
The procedure, known as a non-surgical Brazilian butt lift or BBL, involves dermal filler or fat being injected into the buttocks to add volume and definition. The same can be done to enhance breasts.
In the UK, the fillers tend to contain a natural substance called hyaluronic acid. Clinics offer the procedure for about £1,600.
Last month, the City of Wolverhampton council became the first local authority in England to take action to stop the procedures.
A health and safety notice was served after an assessment on whether those carrying it out had the requisite skills and experience. A report identified the risks and complications associated with the procedure, including pulmonary embolism, sepsis, deep vein thrombosis, and fat and skin necrosis.
The popularity of surgical and non-surgical BBLs has increased significantly but there is no standard licensing scheme in England for businesses offering the procedure.
A public consultation is due to be carried out under the Health and Care Act 2022 to give the government powers to introduce such a scheme but the timescale has yet to be determined.
Owing to the serious risks involved, the procedure is likely to be excluded from the scheme unless it is carried out by someone listed on the General Medical Council’s specialist register.
On Friday, a spokesperson for the Local Government Association said: “Councils are concerned by the prevalence of these procedures and urge the government to bring forward its planned licensing regime without delay, and ensure councils have the compliance and enforcement capacity to take action against individuals and businesses carrying out these treatments.”
Marc Pacifico, a consultant plastic surgeon and president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said the association supported the decisions taken by the City of Wolverhampton council.
Pacifico said: “The risks involved in filler injection can be significant, especially when injected blindly into the buttocks. We hope that other councils around the UK follow this example of decisive action to protect the public.”
Dr Tijion Esho, an expert in aesthetic medicine, said the procedure was rising in popularity because of social media. Esho said instead of a “blanket ban” the solution was better regulation to ensure the procedures were carried out by skilled people.