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Surgeons' demands published in British Medical Journal

Fillers Less Regulated than Tattooing and Acupuncture - Call to Make Them Prescription

London, UK- 24 July 2009- The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (, the not-for-profit organisation established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit, has long expressed outrage over the lack of government regulation for non-surgical cosmetic filler treatments. This week, the prestigious British Medical Journal has published these grievances in a letter by BAAPS President Nigel Mercer, demanding they be reclassified as prescription medicines and comparing them with smaller, yet more regulated elective treatment arenas such as tattooing, acupuncture and cosmetic piercing.

In a letter published in the British Medical Journal, Nigel Mercer, President of the BAAPS and consultant plastic surgeon, states;

"In 1968 the government passed a law controlling tattooing in the UK on the grounds of public health. The market for dermal fillers is much larger in terms of volume, and it must be regulated to reduce the risks of harm to the population"

The letter also argues concern over the approval process that allows injectables to be used in the UK. Currently dermal fillers are treated as a medical 'device' requiring only a CE marking and in a recent survey, 96% of BAAPS members stated that the government should adopt a system in which dermal fillers are treated as medicines.

Nigel adds;

"The fact that dermal fillers only require a CE Marking (which relates to production standards, not efficacy) to be on the market is worrying as a number of unproven products are being used on people in the UK. In the United States they have to be approved by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) as medicines- therefore over 140 injectable fillers are available in the UK compared with six in US."

The lack of UK regulation means that a doctor need not prescribe dermal fillers and that anyone can inject them. As a consequence, members of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) have seen an alarming number of patients who have experienced complications due to permanent fillers (e.g., Bio-Alcamid and Aquamid). Within the last year, two in five surgeons saw up to three patients with complications due to this type of fillers, and almost a quarter of surgeons saw between 1-3 patients that actually required surgery to correct those problems.

Due to the lack of regulation, BAAPS had developed a safety checklist to help aid the public when choosing a filler and practitioner.

For more information on cosmetic procedures or to find a BAAPS member in your area, please visit


The BAAPS (, based at the Royal College of Surgeons, is a not-for-profit organisation, established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit. Members undergo thorough background screening before they can join. Information about specific procedures and surgeons’ contact details can be found on the website, or by contacting their office at 020 7430 1840. Further materials can be posted to members of the public seeking specialised information. BAAPS is also on Twitter:   and Facebook:

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