Aesthetic op errors rise

By Robin Stride

Aesthetic doctors are reporting a ‘staggering rise’ in complications caused by other practitioners.

Members of The British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM) disclosed they have treated 300 more complications from other practitioners since last year. 

The total number has risen to 3,523 from 3,323 since 2022. Of the 357 BCAM members surveyed, 82% said they had handled someone else’s complications. 

Most (69%) of the complications had come from treatments performed by beauticians, therapists and podiatrists, which is up from 60% last year. 

The remainder were attributed to other aesthetic medicine doctors, surgeons, nurses and pharmacists.

Dermal filler procedures continue to be associated with the biggest number of complications, while adverse events associated with botulinum toxin are not far behind: 

  • Dermal fillers (44%);
  • Botulinum toxin (30%);
  • Threads (12%);
  • Lasers and other energy-based devices (9%).

Civica Medical Billing

The BCAM said that due to the lack of the denominator – the number of procedures performed by non-physician practitioners – it was impossible to estimate the
relative rate of complications of injectable treatments performed by unregulated practitioners in the UK. 

President Catherine Fairris said: ‘We have found that dermal fillers continue to be the treatment with largest number of complications from non-medical practitioners, which confirms how dangerous dermal fillers can be in the wrong hands. 

‘Notably, members report that these complications are often more severe and require specialised treatments. 

‘We strongly welcome the public consultation for a licensing scheme of aesthetic treatments, which will hopefully reduce the rate of complications and put patient safety first in the coming years.’ 

The BCAM annual clinical review 2023 states botulinum toxin was again the most frequently performed procedure by BCAM members. More than 283,000 individual botulinum toxin procedures were conducted by 357 individual members, which was down from 315,000 by 331 members last year. 

The top five treatments most frequently performed by BCAM members were:

  • Toxin injections (96% – a decrease of 1%);
  • HA dermal fillers (93% – a decrease of 1%);
  • Non-HA dermal filler (53% – an increase of 5%);
  • Mesotherapy/collagen stimulators (66% – an increase of 4%);
  • Laser/IPL (36% – an increase of 1%).

Dr Aggie Zatonska

BCAM has been collecting data from its members since 2012. It said the data collected in each annual review is used to tailor BCAM’s decisions to best suit the needs of members and improve patient safety. 

The results will also be shared with the Department of Health and Social Care ‘to provide insights that inform and help to better co-operate with policies and decision makers’. 

BCAM trustee Dr Aggie Zatonska, an aesthetics doctor and former ENT surgeon, co-ordinated the annual clinical review. She said: ‘BCAM will continue to use our survey results to influence its future planning. 

‘We look forward to working collaboratively with stakeholders over the next year to further improve patient safety and campaign for better regulation.’