Illegal underage lip fillers

10 December 2021
1 min read

The BBC has recently reported that dermal fillers for cosmetic purposes are being given to under 18s – despite this being illegal.

There are no qualifications required to purchase or administer filler, however Caroline Mills, British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (BAOMS) lead on facial aesthetic/cosmetic surgery and consultant maxillofacial surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital, has previously explained that the possible complications from botox or dermal filler injections are significant and can cause blindness, severe allergic reactions, chronic ongoing infection and deformity, saying, “These procedures can have significant life changing side-effects and require the competency to administer emergency medical treatment.”

Save Face, a national register of accredited practitioners who provide non-surgical treatments, says it has received more than 5,000 complaints over the past four years - and 70 per cent of them related to fillers.

The BBC’s news report explains how they investigated the effectiveness of the law by creating a fake Facebook profile for a 16-year-old girl named ‘Jennie May’, whose profile image was generated using an artificial intelligence (AI) programme.

Despite Facebook claiming that listings on its Marketplace must nor promote the sale of cosmetic procedures such as fillers, the BBC’s ‘Jennie’ was able to contact more than 200 practitioners.

To make it clear than ‘Jennie’ was underage, her message requested lip fillers so she could “feel confident” for her upcoming 17th birthday, according to the broadcaster.

They then shared that whilst “the majority of the 184 respondents refused the request, more than one in five who replied said they were willing to treat underage ‘Jennie’.”

A Facebook spokesperson responded to the BBC’s investigation, explaining that “‘search terms’ have now been ‘blocked’ and listings which violate its guidelines will be removed”

Meanwhile, the BBC also shared a response from Maria Caufield, minister for patient safety and women’s health. She said that “businesses are legally required to check the age of their clients, and anyone found not doing so will face prosecution”.