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Public Health issues warning on injectable cosmetics after person is hospitalised 

Photo by Johnny Bugeja,

Public Health Gibraltar on Monday warned of the potential dangers of injectable cosmetic treatments, after a person was hospitalised following such a procedure.

The warning to anyone considering these treatments was clear: check the person’s certification and be aware of the health risks.

Cosmetic treatments are often provided by experienced and well-qualified practitioners working alongside medical practitioners.

But for some treatments, the law is less onerous and potentially open to greater risk.

Under existing Gibraltar law, for example, non-certified practitioners can legally administer some injectable treatments with little more than a business licence.

That places the onus on clients to check for evidence of training and adherence to hygiene procedures essential when administering such treatments.

For some treatments, Gibraltar law requires a prescription from a doctor. That is the case for Botox, which is administered by injection to freeze facial muscles.

The prescribing doctor then assumes responsibility for ensuring the practitioner is properly trained.

But for dermal fillers, an injectable which ‘fills’ wrinkles and augments facial features, there is no need for a prescription in Gibraltar, which follows UK law in this sphere.

Last year the UK Government announced a crackdown on unregulated non-surgical cosmetic procedures and the Chronicle understands officials in Gibraltar are also in discussion regarding the legal status of dermal fillers locally.

The Director of Public Health, Dr Helen Carter, confirmed that her warning on Monday came after a person was hospitalised following a cosmetic treatment.

She advised the public to be aware of the risks, do their homework and leave if they notice anything awry.

A statement issued by Public Health Gibraltar told those engaging in these services to ask these key questions: “Has the practitioner washed their hands? Are they using gloves? If they are using needles are the needles clean? Are they disposing of them safely?”

Dr Carter recognised certification is not required by law and said she has spoken to the Office of Fair Trading regarding specific licencing, but said this was a policy decision which would need to involve ministers.

As Chair of the Gibraltar Medical Registration Board, she pointed the public to ask their practitioner who their prescribing doctor is and search for their names online via:

The search will give the doctor’s details but will not give details on the practitioners’ certification, unless they have enough medical background to also be registered.

Dr Carter warned beauty and lifestyle injectable treatments can be dangerous. 

“If you are in any doubt at any time before or during the treatment, stop. Your health is more important,” she said.
She described how invasive beauty treatments are very normalised but stressed some of the risks associated with fillers and Botox, such as necrosis, the death of tissue which cannot be reversed.

The issue, in part, lays with the speed of the beauty industry in constantly churning out new invasive methods to treat their clients.

“The beauty industry is always a few steps ahead,” Dr Carter said.

But it is non-prescription treatments which tend to fall under the radar, with Dr Carter highlighting trends with lasers and ‘vampire facials’, a procedure that involves drawing blood from a persons arm, separating platelets and applying them back onto the face.

Dr Carter also raised concern of the popularity of new trends such as IV vitamin infusions and injections.
As the injectables are non-prescription, no certification is needed to administer, and even those with certification do not need medical backgrounds.

The level of training can range from no medical experience and just a day-long course, to years of medical practice.
“Under current laws anybody can do a training course,” Dr Carter said.

She added that people should be wise when choosing who will administer the injectables and assess their level of training.

The Gibraltar Government said all cosmetic service providers in Gibraltar must be licensed by the Office of Fair Trading to operate lawfully.

“The OFT will only issue a licence, subject to pertinent conditions which aim to set minimum standards of practise, once satisfied that the applicant has the skills, the expertise and the setup to offer the cosmetic services safely in Gibraltar,” the Government said.

“This involves assessment of the professionals who will deliver the service.”

The spokesman added the Government was planning to introduce further legislation.

“The issue of a more specific form of regulation of the cosmetic service sector is being explored by the Government,” the spokesman said.

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