It is a pleasure to be able to speak in this debate and I congratulate my Honourable Friend, the Member for Sevenoaks for bringing forward this Bill.
Looking at my childhood, I grew up in a family of girls with three sisters. Our parents were fantastic, but I pity our mother with four daughters and all those raging hormones! We were lucky to have a wonderful father and may I draw the attention to the gentlemen of this House as to how important they are for their daughters’ confidence. Our father told us we were gorgeous, but he also valued education – to have women of substance!
The 2017 Conservative manifesto contained a commitment to ensure the effective registration and regulation of those performing cosmetic interventions.
At present, practitioners of botox and fillers do not need to be medically qualified to perform the procedures and there are no mandatory competency or qualification frameworks related to their administration. The potential health risks of the procedures include blindness, tissue necrosis, infection and so on – as highlighted by Honourable Members today.
In 2008, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons said that cosmetic surgery should always be conducted in the patient’s best interest. It says that the decision to perform plastic surgery on a teenager should only be made in exceptional circumstances and with parental consent. This type of scrutiny should also apply to beauty and cosmetic practitioners.
Whilst it is normal for teenagers to worry about their looks it should never be a matter of course for young people to have or consider cosmetic surgery for aesthetic reasons. Surgeons work under strict guidelines and it is their responsibility to weigh up the pros and cons for each person in a responsible and focused manner in the best interests of their patient.
Children who are still growing should not be considered candidates for appearance change. Cosmetic surgery procedures should be only rarely performed on children who are still growing, for example, in cases of congenital deformity. There is a big difference between cosmetic procedures used for medical and mental health reasons and those purely for aesthetic ones.
Teenagers are physically immature and may not have developed the emotional strength to enable them to cope with a permanent change of appearance, the complications of surgery, botox and fillers, or the failure of surgery, botox and fillers to meet their expectations.
Botulinum toxin (Botox) is a powerful chemical agent that paralyses muscle and is used to lessen the appearance of wrinkles. Its use and administration should be restricted and regulated. I would argue that it should only ever be administered after careful consideration of the client and their circumstances, no matter their age.
Cosmetic surgery or procedures are not always the right answer and it is very unlikely that someone in their teens will receive any benefit from having Botox injections for cosmetic reasons. Young people do not have wrinkles and every young person should celebrate their youth, individuality and perfection.
Botox is used in treatment of a range of medical conditions, including for management of bladder dysfunctions, face and eyelid twitching, painful involuntary neck muscle contractions, and severe sweating.
Recent studies have described the use of botulinum toxin as an adjunct to the treatment of a cleft lip.
It is important therefore that under 18s will be able to access medical treatment if they need it and this Bill will not prevent this.
This Private Members Bill seeks to prevent under 18s from accessing botox or dermal filler procedures for aesthetic reasons and I praise my Hon. Friend, the Member for Sevenoaks for bringing this Bill to the House to highlight this serious issue and for debate.
The Bill will achieve its admirable aims through making the administration of botulinum toxin and cosmetic fullers by injection to under 18s an offence and establishing a regulatory framework through local authorities to ensure businesses have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent under 18s using their services.
It is for these reasons that I am delighted to support this Bill.