Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:35 am on 16th October 2020.

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Photo of Laura Trott Laura Trott Conservative, Sevenoaks 9:35 am, 16th October 2020

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Let us be clear, no child needs cosmetic fillers or botox. However, this is not, unfortunately, how many of our young people feel. Social media exerts a huge pressure on young people to conform to aesthetic ideals, which are simply not attainable without cosmetic surgery or interventions, and this, combined with their increasing availability on the high street and in people’s homes, means that we have an increasing normalisation of cosmetic interventions among the young. These procedures risk ruining young people’s lives.

Alarmingly, this is an unregulated area, so the data that we have on prevalence is very thin, but a survey in 2018 showed that 100,000 under-16s had undergone cosmetic enhancements, the most common of which were fillers. This is worrying not just for the mental health of our young people, but for their physical health, too. We do not expect something that we can easily and very legally get done in the comfort of our own home to be something that can blind us, but, shockingly, that is the case.

For those who are not familiar with fillers and with botox, let me explain: fillers are gel-like substances that can be injected into the lips or the face to add volume and plump the skin. Temporary fillers last eight to 16 months, and there are permanent fillers as well, which have an increased risk of complication. There are currently no restrictions on who can inject fillers into the face. Botulinum toxin, more commonly known as botox, is injected into the skin to smooth lines and wrinkles, and it is not hard to understand the attraction of that. It is a prescription-only medicine, but doctors can delegate responsibility for injecting the botox to anyone at all with no qualifications.

Botox and fillers can be incredibly dangerous. Complications can include, but are not limited to, blindness, breathing difficulties—if it is injected into the neck—infection and the filler moving away from the intended treatment area into other areas of the face. Many people, mainly women, have been left with rotting tissue, lip amputations and lumps. I remind the House that, if any of these complications occurs, the practitioner injecting the substance needs to have no medical training whatsoever, so neither will they be able to deal with the potential complications, nor are they required to have insurance, so they do not have to pay for the very expensive cosmetic surgery that may be required to fix the problem.