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News & Media

The appearance medicine industry is bracing for change

Donna-Marie Lever: 1 News reporter 13th August 2018

The appearance medicine industry is bracing for change as it deals with an increasing number of Asian clients wanting to Westernise their faces. The rules around who can apply dermal filler is also set to be tightened, because of the threat of rare, but serious health risks.

Asian aesthetics was a major discussion topic at the New Zealand Society of Cosmetic Medicine (NZSCM) conference in Queenstown over the weekend, attracting more than 220 doctors and nurses from the industry.

Hans Raetz, President of the NZSCM says, “We've certainly seen an increase over the past few years of five per cent a year on the year before. We estimate around 20 per cent of our clients are now of Asian extraction.”

Popular procedures include reshaping of noses, lips, eyelids and cheeks using dermal filler - but it comes with risks.

“If you inject into this area and you hit one of the arteries or veins you can cause issues at the back of the eye that can cause blindness.” Dr Raetz told 1 NEWS.

The conference covers all aspects of the appearance medicine industry, and it was at the same conference exactly one year ago where New Zealand's first case of blindness from dermal filler was revealed - something that still concerns the industry and has them calling for change.

Dr Raetz fears history may be repeated. “I’m absolutely sure it will happen again - it's a matter of how many noses do you inject before you have a side effect.”

Tighter rules around who can inject dermal filler are coming as part of a wide ranging review into therapeutic products expected later this year.

Unlike Botox-type products which are prescription medicines in New Zealand, dermal filler is classified a medical device, so anyone - trained or not - can inject it. 

“They [Ministry of Health] have agreed to look at potentially regulating this a little bit further, and restricting it to medical personnel. At the moment in theory anybody can inject dermal filler - your beautician, your hairdresser, the fireman down the road - it's not illegal.” Dr Raetz says.

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