A ban on children receiving Botox or cosmetic fillers has moved closer to becoming law, as MPs warned of the “Love Island effect” on youngsters.
Conservative MP Laura Trott (Sevenoaks) wants to bring the procedures in line with other body modification techniques, such as tattooing, by banning them for under-18s.
Her Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill seeks to prohibit the procedures for children in England if they are for purely aesthetic purposes and not approved by a doctor.
MPs gave the proposed legislation an unopposed second reading, and it is backed by the Government and Labour.
Health minister Edward Argar went further and told the Commons: “Alongside this Bill, my department is also exploring a range of options for increased oversight of practitioners, including a system of registration or licensing.”
Speaking earlier in the debate, Conservative MP Laura Farris (Newbury) said of why youngsters undergo the procedures: “They’re doing it because of a three-pronged assault they face from celebrities, from people who participate in reality TV shows, also from social media and I also have to say I think Instagram is particularly pernicious in this regard.”
Tory colleague Andrew Bowie (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) added: “There are also concerns over broadcasters and they too have a responsibility.
“Does she (Ms Farris) share my concerns over the so-called Love Island effect?
“Young children and teenagers are watching programmes looking at body images which are so far removed from reality that they’re doing great damage not only physically but mentally to children and young people.”
Ms Farris replied: “The fact is they’re completely blended as mediums and one who appears in one will also be present on the other.”
Introducing her Bill, Ms Trott said: “We can no longer allow the unscrupulous actions of some to impact on our children’s lives, and those administering the procedures must be held accountable.”
She added: “The most frequent reaction I have received in response to my Bill, is ‘Surely that is illegal already?’
“I join in this disbelief and this House must now put it right.”
Ms Trott raised the case of one young girl who “nearly lost her lips” after a botched procedure and another who needed “critical care” after her enhancement went wrong.
She told MPs: “It is the NHS which has to pick up the bill for these problems, but it is not the NHS who will always pay for cosmetic surgery to fix it.
“So young people can be left with lifelong scars as a result of this surgery.”
She added: “I could expand at length about the historic lack of oversight for women’s health issues.
“From PIP breast implants to vaginal mesh, we have simply not seen enough focus on these important issues by government over decades.”
Tory MP James Cartlidge (South Suffolk) welcomed the Bill and said he understood why some people were attracted towards cosmetic procedures, given his experience of being able to wear contact lenses instead of glasses.
He added: “It actually gave me a huge boost to my self-confidence and self-esteem, so I do understand and empathise with the way in which people would want to invest in procedures or enhancements that give them greater self-confidence.”
Claire Coutinho, Conservative MP for East Surrey, offering her backing to the Bill, said the lack of social media pressure helped her as a child.
“As a child, I think, even in the kindest possible terms, I would be described as unfortunate… my bottle-glass glasses, which I had by the age of five, were surrounded by some very fetching plastic rainbow frames. I accompanied this with a pudding-bowl haircut and a dress sense which was interesting, to say the least.
“But, as a child, I did not have to contend with social media and that’s something I seriously worry about for young people of this age.”
Dr Luke Evans, Conservative MP for Bosworth, spoke of problems experienced by patients he had seen.
He warned: “I have actually seen patients who have come in, with lip fillers particularly, when they’ve gone wrong.
“The lesser side is the bruising and swelling – usually that will go after the first two weeks – however, there can be clumping so you get uneven lumps and bumps within the lips.
“Worse still, I have seen necrosis – that is dying of the tissue, where you actually start to see the lip filler coming out.
“That is absolutely devastating for the person suffering it, and worse still there’s no accountability to find out how to get that corrected.”
The Bill will undergo further scrutiny at a later stage.
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