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The Truth About Cosmetic Treatments

12:08, 26/8/2020

Home » News & Knowledge » The Truth About Cosmetic Treatments

Some of you may have caught the documentary, The Truth About Cosmetic Treatments, last night on BBC One.


The Michael Mosley and Mehreen Baig BBC TV documentary focused on a variety of cosmetic treatments, for both their effectiveness and safety. This is part one of a two-part programme, looking at the booming industry and how demand has surged to a level higher than pre- lockdown.

Many argue we are now in an age where people have a sense of themselves more than ever before, with pressure to look the best we can, and sometimes striving to achieve a look we can only reach by cosmetic procedures.

Maybe not so surprising with a generation raised on filtered selfies, creating a perception of self that encourages us to hide our imperfections and hide reality. We might once think of these procedures just for the aging population, who want to revert to a more youthful look, but in actual fact, there is a growing number of young people looking to undergo these procedures.

Dermal fillers and Botox are a booming trend in the young population. As they strive not just to reverse the wrinkles and signs of aging, but stop them in their tracks before they ever creep in. First, we will get a better insight into cosmetic treatments and then look at what to do regarding cosmetic surgery compensation claims when things go wrong.


The Truth About Cosmetic Treatments


So, what is cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic surgery embodies a range of invasive and non-invasive procedures that aim to improve the overall aesthetic appearance of an individual. The more invasive procedures typically include techniques that break the skin, such as face, brow and body lifts, as well as other surgeries like breast augmentations.

These procedures often have a more permanent result, are difficult to reverse, and are much more heavily regulated.

The show first focused on the non-invasive cosmetic procedures, including beauty treatments such as Botox, dermal fillers, laser treatments, and other techniques designed to damage the skin in order to promote the body’s own Hyaluronic Acid.

These procedures are often temporary, perhaps lasting 6-12 months and in some cases, such as dermal fillers, can be reversed or dissipate naturally. Many people opt for these treatments as they often involve fewer complications and scarring, in addition to benefitting from reduced recovery times and costs.

However, when it comes to non-invasive cosmetic procedures such as fillers, the industry is totally unregulated. Anyone can set up their own business without any training or qualifications. This was highlighted in the BBC show and has been the topic of conversation in both the press and Parliament for some time.

One must ask, in a day of such high health and safety standards, why is this industry not regulated? Why is the UK one of the only countries not to regulate this industry? A local Council requires a license for tattooing and piercing, yet anyone can set up and carry out fillers!

Injury and adverse side effects of Botox and fillers are something we see here at Oakwood Solicitors Ltd on a far too regular basis.



The UK is behind Europe, with many of our neighbours setting out strict regulations for non-surgical procedures. Spain for example requires only a qualified doctor to administer Botox and fillers and doctors must undergo specialist training before doing so. Not even nurses or dentists can undertake such procedures. France has long since introduced similar legislation.

Scotland is currently the first within the UK to introduce proposals to regulate the industry, calling for non-medical professionals to register for a license to perform such treatments, similar to those carrying out tattoos and piercings. Whilst it is a step forward, it is a rather small step forward. Not since 2013 has England carried out a report into the industry.

The report carried out at this time made many recommendations to improve the industry and predicted the expected boom which followed. The report called for fillers to be classified as medical devices and therefore requiring them to be prescription only.


What are dermal fillers? 

Injectable dermal fillers contain a gel, usually made up of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid can be found in the human body occurring naturally.

These fillers are designed to mimic the body’s own hyaluronic acid. Products containing hyaluronic acid, such as Perlane, Juvederm, Belotero, Restylane, and many others have become readily available over recent years and have shown to be highly popular. There are reportedly be over sixty dermal fillers on the UK market.

Dermal fillers are injected into areas to fill in wrinkles and create the appearance of smoother skin. They can be used in many areas of the body to fill in wrinkles and add volume to soft tissue, however they are most commonly used in the facial area.

You can have dermal fillers in different parts of your face: around the eye, cheeks, mouth, and jawline, as well as lip fillers administered directly into the lip tissue. The show highlighted the growing use of fillers to correct asymmetrical noses, without the need to go under the knife.

As mentioned above – in the UK, dermal fillers remain unregulated. This means that anyone can administer them simply by buying them online and injecting them into people’s bodies. This is a very scary thought, but it’s happening every day.

It’s reported that many surgeons are now being asked to deal with the fallout from mistakes or negligence of those who are not fit to carry out these procedures. Such procedures are often carried out in unsterile environments, such as people’s homes and garages. Often, ‘practitioners’ advertise on various social media platforms, with no way of obtaining any real evidence of their background or qualifications.

Dermal fillers can trigger side effects, some of which are temporary, and others may be permanent. The most common problems include:

  • Skin rashes, itching, or pimple-like eruptions.
  • Redness, bruising, bleeding, or swelling.
  • Undesirable appearance, such as asymmetry, lumps, or overcorrection of wrinkles.
  • Skin damage that causes a wound, infection, or scarring.
  • Ability to feel the filler substance under the skin.
  • Blindness or other vision problems.
  • Death of skin cells due to loss of blood flow to the area.

These side effects may be more or less, depending on the volume of filler used.

The treatment for side effects that do not dissipate vary depending on the formula used. Many practitioners will offer to dissolve the filler if the client is dissatisfied. However, they may be left with permanent scarring or tissue damage if the procedure has not been carried out correctly, and not rectified within a reasonable timeframe.

This is often the case if the Botox or filler is injected directly into a blood vessel, also referred to as a vascular occlusion. In which the blood vessel becomes blocked, restricting the blood blow. The damage caused can be irreversible and leave devastating consequences.


What action can you take?

If you have been unfortunate enough to have had poor treatment, the first port of call, especially for the more serious side effects, is to seek medical advice from your GP or hospital. It is also worthwhile reporting any adverse side effects to the practitioner who carried out the procedure.

For those less serious side effects, the practitioner may be able to rectify the problem but dissolving the filler.  If you have any concerns over the competency of the practitioner, then you may wish to seek advice from an alternative.


Who can you trust?

When it comes to finding a practitioner to carry out the procedure, you might carry out a lot of research and still find you are at a loss of where to turn. Many of the websites you find are professional and convincing, however – can you really know anything about who is carrying out the procedure? Are they trained? Do they have the experience? Are they insured?

The best way forward are companies such as Saveface, which have a database of fully qualified practitioners, all of whom have been fully vetted to ensure safe, competent, and quality procedures. Best of all, access to their database is free! So you can rest assured that the expert you have found is the right one for the job.

cosmetic treatments


Download the full cosmetic treatment infographic as PDF or PNG.

When it comes to taking legal action, you need to consider the following:


Who carried out the procedure?

A trained and registered nurse or doctor? Often you may not know the answer – but if you do, it’s best to make a record of it.


Are they insured?  

This is often not something you will be made aware of, especially if they don’t have insurance, and given that this industry is not regulated, there is no requirement on these ‘practitioners’ to be insured.

This is a huge problem when it comes to seeking redress for their negligence. If they are not insured, it makes obtaining compensation – and your expenses and losses for their negligence – very difficult. You can pursue the practitioner directly, however, this is difficult and often has an unrewarding end. If you are able to find out, make a record. Alternatively, your instructed Solicitor can find out for you.


Document the injury

It is always worthwhile documenting the injury. Photographs and a written diary of symptoms and recovery will help any future medical expert assess the problems and provide the appropriate advice and subsequent report.



When it comes to liability, this is when it’s best to seek legal advice. It is my job to listen to your version of events and assess whether you have prospects to take the case forwards. We will then gather all the evidence, and medical evidence, available, and obtain a report from an independent medical expert.

The expert reports obtained will prove causation of the injury, i.e. it was in fact the practitioner’s negligent actions that caused the injury, and provide a prognosis for recovery and/or advice for treatment to rectify the problem. As mentioned above, if you have experienced any of the following you may wish to consider a claim for personal injury, or at least a refund:

  • Skin rashes, itching, or pimple-like eruptions.
  • Redness, bruising, bleeding, or swelling.
  • Undesirable appearance, such as asymmetry, lumps, or overcorrection of wrinkles.
  • Skin damage that causes a wound, infection, or scarring.
  • Ability to feel the filler substance under the skin.
  • Blindness or other vision problems.
  • Vascular occlusion
  • Death of skin cells due to loss of blood flow to the area.

However, a big part of liability is consent.


Consent and advice

One of the ways to establishing liability is to consider what advice was given to you before the procedure, and what consent you gave going forwards. Before any procedure, do not be afraid to read all the information given to you and ask questions if you are unsure.

It is the job of the practitioner to make sure you understand the risks. If you have not been fully informed of the risks, the practitioner should not go forward with the procedure. With regards to fillers, whilst the industry is not regulated, the advice to all practitioners remains the same, they must obtain fully informed consent.

Even if you have been warned off the risks and the worse happens, this does not absolve the practitioner from liability. For example: vascular occlusion, whilst a known risk, is often the result of the practitioner’s negligence in failing to carry out the procedure correctly.


Clear act of negligence

These include any cases where the practitioner has done something wrong when carrying out the procedure, this would be something outside of what would be expected.

  • For example, injecting filler or Botox into an area that was not agreed.
  • Negligently carrying out the procedure.
  • Failing to stop or rectify the procedure when it is clear there is an adverse reaction.
  • Failing to dissolve any filler or not having the correct equipment to dissolve the filler straight away if there is an adverse reaction.
  • Causing infection.
  • Any scarring as a result of the procedure which was not expected. This applies to all procedures including laser hair removal.
  • Injuring the client during the procedure.
  • Severe bruising.


Breach of contract – Consumer Protection Rights Act 2015

These cases are those which are harder to prove but include those in which the desired result from the procedure has not been met, and the service you have been provided has not been carried out with reasonable skill and care. There are varied remedies, such as a reduced fee, repeat service, or full refund.

Obviously, if you have lost faith in the competency of the practitioner, it is unlikely you will not want to opt for repeat service to rectify the problem. However, the remedies mentioned above do not prevent you claiming damages for injury, for example:

  • Lumps in the lips from lip fillers.
  • Drooping or sagging skin/ eyes which was not pre-warned.
  • Uneven smile/face/eyes.
  • Discolouring of the skin.


Oakwood Solicitors Ltd


Why choose Oakwood Solicitors Ltd to make your claim?

Here at Oakwood Solicitors Ltd, we assess every case individually. What might seem a trivial injury or side effect to one person, may prevent another from leaving the house.

We look to assess both the physical and psychological effects of every injury, so we can seek compensation for the injury, the right rehabilitation and treatment, and all the expenses and losses that go alongside. Whilst we hope you don’t need our help, we are here if you do.

One message to take away is we need regulation in this industry in order that we can stop untrained and unqualified people carrying out these procedures. These procedures should be left to the trained experts and full regulation can make that happen.



Get in touch today for a free, initial consultation regarding your cosmetic surgery or cosmetic treatments matter. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, speak to us via our web chat feature, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

Meet the author

Paul McMullan is Deputy Head of the Road Traffic Accident Department and joined Oakwood Solicitors in 2010. Paul represents his clients in a wide range of cases, including complex claims and catastrop…

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