The Botox market may be steadily increasing year on year across the world, as people seek natural-looking remedies and enhancements to their facial features, but for under-18s across the UK, the drive to smooth foreheads and plump lips has come to an end.
Botox combines its chemical formula with a complex and professional understanding of exactly where the substance needs to be injected for optimum results – however it is not merely an aesthetic treatment. Often prescribed as an effective migraine and chronic headache remedy, Botox essentially relaxes and prevents the muscle it is injected into from moving and contracting.
So, why has it been banned in the UK for under-18s – and could Ireland be next to follow the trend?
Why Botox has been banned for minors
The essence of the problem surrounding Botox, especially among under-18s, is that with the high demand for the results that Botox exudes when used as an aesthetic treatment, the market for untrained administration is high.
That is, under-18s who do not have the funds or the permission to seek formal Botox treatment, administered by a professional, are instead going to off-market providers who will provide them with the same treatments at lower prices – but at a much higher risk.
When Botox is administered by someone who has not been formally trained, and who operates out of an unregulated facility, the potential for side effects is much greater. Without the correct safety standards and focus on the wellbeing of each client, such treatments can cause great harm to those who unwillingly approach the facilities looking for a quick fix.
Further, because the Botox market is not regulated in the same way as a medical procedure, there is very little that can be done to prevent these people and practices from marketing and advertising services without the formal training – creating a viable market for such activity.
And so, with a ban on Botox for under-18s, the UK creates a definitive obstacle which now stands in the way of unsafe at-home treatments and unregulated facilities – which could be causing more harm than good.
What the UK ban looks like
As of October 2021, it is now considered a criminal offence to administer Botox in an individual who is under the age of 18, for aesthetic purposes. The final part of the new law is crucial, because Botox can be and is used for medical procedures – something which should be allowed to continue when necessary and when prescribed by a doctor.
As this is something which is prescribed as part of a medical treatment, it can be monitored and regulated officially – unlike Botox which is administered for aesthetic purposes.
The law extends to those cases where parents have given permission, with the government presenting a simple blanket ban on all aesthetic Botox and filler activity for under-18s – stating that this is an issue of safeguarding and supports the wellbeing of the individual.
Could Ireland be next?
With the UK’s ban now fully enforced across the country, attention is turning to other countries and their own attitudes to Botox and aesthetic fillers for under-18s. In the USA, there is no legal age limit attached to aesthetic Botox or filler treatment, leaving minors free to book and attend treatments as they wish. Though some individual doctors have instated their own conditions and age limits, the overwhelming lack of regulation and monitoring leaves individuals free to make their own decisions.
In Ireland, the practice of teenagers seeking unsafe and unregulated at-home Botox treatments has become somewhat of a pandemic – with many calling for the same ban as that instated by the UK in order to combat such activity. Again, the issue remains that the lax regulations allow inexperienced practitioners free reign in the market – turning any and all manner of surroundings into makeshift Botox studios and clinics.
As we move further in 2021, the hope among professional clinicians is that a ban for all minors will help to clean up the market – alleviating the competition from unregulated and unsafe practitioners and ensuring that the Botox and aesthetic filler industry remains a safe and hygienic space.
Stay safe in the face of unlawful Botox
If you are considering Botox and are eligible under the new age limits in the UK, making sure to book your treatment with a fully trained and regulated professional is key.