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News & Media

Botox, fillers, peels: NZ has tighter rein than UK

News from the New Zealand Doctor newsroom by Liane Topham-Kindley /02 May 2013

UK concerns about public health and safety of non-surgical cosmetic procedures need not be echoed in New Zealand, according to former GP Hans Raetz, president of the NZ Society of Cosmetic Medicine

It's not a simple process like buying a toothbrush
UK concerns about public health and safety of non-surgical cosmetic procedures need not be echoed in New Zealand, according to former GP Hans Raetz, President of the NZ Society of Cosmetic Medicine.

Industry regulation is tighter in New Zealand than the UK, Dr Raetz says

A review of the regulation of cosmetic interventions in the UK, released last week, highlights particular concerns about non-surgical cosmetic procedures such as dermal fillers, Botox, chemical peel and laser hair removal.

Under current regulations all of these procedures can legally be performed by anyone, despite the fact that, if performed incorrectly, they can result in complications such as burning, scarring, infection and even blindness.

"Given the known risks, it is not appropriate that the public has no more consumer rights when receiving a dermal filler injection, then when buying a toothbrush," the UK report says.

The review proposes much tighter and rigorous regulation for these types of non-surgical cosmetic procedures to ensure public safety.

Sector regulated in NZ

Dr Raetz, medical director of an appearance medicine clinic in Queenstown, says New Zealand has already carried out much of the work included in the UK review recommendations.
The Medical Council of New Zealand developed a statement of cosmetic procedures, recommending non-surgical cosmetic procedures be performed by a vocationally registered GP, dermatologist or surgeon.
The NZ Society of Cosmetic Medicine has also developed a training programme, which has been approved by the Medical Council, under the auspices of the RNZCGP.
The two colleges are also working together to establish appearance medicine as an extended scope of practice.

10 year campaign to clean up the industry

Dr Raetz says the college has done a lot of work cleaning up advertising and discount schemes run by some providers.
"NZSCM has run a 10 year campaign to get the field cleaned up and either get fly-by-nighters trained up, or out of business," Dr Raetz says.
"I think the relatively low level of complaints in New Zealand is credit to the general success of this strategy."

He admits there is still some work to be done in New Zealand, with cases of some nurses being given the go-ahead to carry out Botox injections under standing orders, when the doctor responsible does not know what they are doing.

"There's a bit of cleaning up still to do," Dr Raetz says.

Medical Council chair John Adams says there is still "a steady, but infrequent, trickle" of complaints about the adequacy of services and a lack of informed consent.

Boundaries still not always clear in NZ

Appearance medicine is a burgeoning business, and there are a number of areas in the industry where "the boundaries are not entirely clear", Dr Adams says.
"From the Medical Council's point of view, we are trying to ensure that patients get the safest and best services in this area."

UK report available here

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