As the cosmetic surgery industry reaches its financial climax to date, at a staggering £3.6 billion, it is not unreasonable to question the woefully inadequate regulations afforded to those whom fall victim.

Education of the potential risk of injury posed by cosmetic surgery, particularly those injuries caused by needlesticks used in surgical performance, must be encouraged amongst the wider public, for the benefit of all involved.

Microdermabrasion procedure

Who wouldn't be drawn to the advert of a younger, fresher self? Well this merely touches on the features offered by a procedure commonly known as Microdermabrasion which has risen in popularity in recent years. The process involves tiny aluminium crystals, blasted at the skin at high-velocity, removing the top layer, which is then suctioned away. By holding the handset, the user will apply mechanical pressure to roll the needle cylinder onto the skin of the face and body of clients, creating multiple small abrasions.

Despite the cosmetic procedure involved, the treatment's accessibility has transcended beyond the assuming hospitals, into many a high street beauty salon and used by trained beauticians with no regulations governing this procedure. Public Health England (PHE) are now investigating the potential consequences of this procedure being carried out and being widely available given that there is a possible risk of blood-bourne viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C being transmitted.

The treatment creates a process of multiple small puncture wounds which can result in bleeding and the generation of serous fluid where it has been applied; in addition, there is the risk of needlestick injuries to staff or cross-contamination to clients.

The matter was exposed last year, as three employees of a North West beauty salon, suffered needlestick injuries from providing this treatment to their clients. Each exposed individual was using the same needle microdermabrasion device, in which needlestick injuries occurred during the process of disassembling the device. Fortunately, those exposed subsequently tested negative for blood borne viruses, however it has proceeded to highlight that this procedure should not be taken lightly.

The Department of Health has previously reported the failing regulatory framework, which surrounds the rapid growth of the cosmetic interventions sector; therefore not enough protection is afforded against the potential risks from cosmetic procedures. PHE have reported that part of their investigation will mean working closely with Environmental Health Officers and the device manufacturer in order to review any design modifications required and the management of this procedure to reduce the risk of injury to the user and client going forward.

Amanda Stoodley at Lester Aldridge says “Existing regulations in place were not designed to encompass the changes seen in the ever expanding cosmetic interventions industry.

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) have recently launched a webpage offering patients seeking cosmetic surgery practical advice about how to pick the right hospital and doctor. They also offer advice to those practices offering cosmetic procedures. This is excellent news for those considering cosmetic procedures. With over 51,000 cosmetic procedures being performed in the private sector in Britain last year alone, it is really important to improve the service and take heed of the popular demand. However, more needs to be done with regarding to creating regulations governing the use of needle microdermabrasion systems and for those regulations to then being implemented and monitored.

I hope that the PHE’s investigations will see changes implemented in the industry supporting improved training, infection control and guidance to those administering this treatment.”