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Public Opinion on Non-Surgical Cosmetic Procedure Legislation for Under-18s

The rising interest in non-surgical cosmetic procedures among individuals under 18 in the UK has prompted a discussion on the need for tighter regulation and oversight. With young people increasingly seeking treatments such as Botox and fillers, questions regarding the effectiveness of current legislation have come to the forefront. 

To better understand consumer attitudes towards this issue, a survey was conducted, focusing on the legal and regulatory aspects of providing access to these procedures for under-18s. The results of the survey indicate a strong preference among the public for more stringent measures to ensure the safety and well-being of minors engaging in cosmetic enhancements. We explore these results below.

Public Opinion on Under-18s Access to Botox and Fillers

The survey revealed a clear consensus regarding the access of under-18s to Botox and fillers: a substantial 83% of respondents believe that individuals under the age of 18 should not have the legal right to undergo such procedures without parental consent. This strong majority reflects a widespread concern for the welfare of young people considering cosmetic enhancements, emphasising the importance of guidance and oversight from guardians in making such decisions.



On the other side of the debate, 17% of respondents hold the view that under-18s should have the autonomy to access Botox and fillers without the need for parental approval. This minority perspective underscores a belief in the capacity of young individuals to make informed decisions about their bodies and the treatments they wish to undergo.

The divergence in opinions highlights a broader discussion about autonomy, maturity, and the role of parental oversight in medical and cosmetic decisions involving minors. The majority stance suggests a prevailing public sentiment that, given the potential risks and implications of cosmetic procedures, the involvement of a parent or guardian is crucial in ensuring the wellbeing and safety of minors. This view is likely informed by concerns over the lack of regulation and the potential for exploitation or harm within the industry, particularly when it comes to vulnerable age groups.

Furthermore, this section of the survey points to a broader societal concern about the increasing pressure on young people to conform to certain beauty standards, possibly exacerbated by social media and other external influences. The call for parental consent is seen not only as a measure to protect the physical health of under-18s but also as a way to safeguard their mental well-being by providing a buffer against impulsive decisions driven by fleeting trends or peer pressure.

The Call for Government Intervention

The survey also illuminates the public’s stance regarding the government's role in regulating non-surgical cosmetic procedures for under-18s. A significant 74% of participants believe that it should be a priority for the UK government to implement nationwide legislation aimed at regulating the access of under-18s to Botox and fillers. This perspective underscores a strong desire for official oversight and standardised regulations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of minors seeking cosmetic enhancements.



In contrast, 26% of respondents do not see the need for the government to prioritise such legislation. This viewpoint might stem from beliefs in individual freedom and autonomy, suggesting that existing regulations are sufficient or that the responsibility should lie with parents and guardians rather than with governmental bodies.

The majority's call for government intervention reflects broader concerns about the current state of the cosmetic procedure industry, especially regarding its accessibility to young people. The push for legislative action is grounded in the recognition that, without proper regulations, there is a risk of under-18s making potentially harmful decisions without adequate oversight or understanding of the long-term implications. This concern is heightened by the lack of a regulatory body specifically overseeing non-surgical cosmetic procedures, which can lead to inconsistent standards of practice and variable levels of practitioner expertise.

Professional Regulation and Health Risks

The data from the survey indicates a significant concern among the public for the professional regulation of non-surgical cosmetic procedures, with 86% of respondents supporting the establishment of a regulated professional body in the UK. This overwhelming majority reflects a strong consensus on the necessity for standardised oversight to ensure the safety, efficacy, and ethical practice of these treatments. The call for a professional regulatory body stems from an understanding that such an institution could play a crucial role in setting and enforcing high standards of practice, education, and ethics among practitioners, thereby safeguarding the interests and well-being of those undergoing cosmetic procedures.

Simultaneously, the survey reveals that 62% of the public is concerned about the potential health risks associated with under-18s using Botox and fillers. This level of concern highlights an awareness of the specific vulnerabilities and medical considerations for this age group, including the long-term implications of such treatments and the psychological impact of undergoing cosmetic procedures at a young age. The fact that a notable proportion of the population is not concerned (28%) might reflect varying levels of trust in current regulations or a belief in the autonomy of individuals and their families to make informed decisions about cosmetic interventions.



The majority opinion advocating for professional regulation is a direct response to these health concerns, suggesting a public demand for a more structured and accountable framework within which non-surgical cosmetic procedures are offered. This approach is seen as essential not only for protecting minors but also for enhancing the overall quality and safety of cosmetic treatments available in the UK. By endorsing the establishment of a professional body, respondents are essentially calling for measures that would require practitioners to obtain specific qualifications, adhere to strict ethical guidelines, and participate in ongoing education to maintain their licensure, thereby raising the standard of care across the industry.

Perceived Under-Regulation and Social Media Influence

Survey results strongly indicate that a vast majority of the public, 86%, perceive cosmetic procedures in the UK as under-regulated. This significant proportion underscores a general concern that the current regulatory framework does not adequately protect consumers, particularly minors, from potential risks associated with these procedures. The belief that cosmetic procedures are under-regulated reflects apprehensions about the quality and safety of treatments available, the qualifications and expertise of practitioners, and the overall ethical standards within the industry. This concern is further amplified by the fast-paced advancements in cosmetic technology and techniques, which may outpace current regulations.



Parallel to concerns about regulation, the influence of social media on under-18s desiring cosmetic procedures is overwhelmingly acknowledged, with 95% of respondents believing that social media plays a role. This perspective highlights the powerful impact of digital platforms in shaping beauty standards and influencing the cosmetic choices of young people. The nearly unanimous agreement on this issue points to a societal recognition of the pressures faced by under-18s in a highly visual and connected digital age, where the portrayal of beauty ideals can often lead to unrealistic and potentially harmful desires for cosmetic alteration.

Moreover, 90% of participants recognise that social media contributes to rapidly changing beauty standards, suggesting that the fluid nature of these standards can exacerbate the demand for cosmetic procedures. This belief underscores the dynamic relationship between media consumption and self-image, especially among younger audiences who are highly engaged with social media platforms. The rapid evolution of beauty ideals, often driven by celebrity culture and influencer trends, can create a continuous cycle of dissatisfaction and desire for cosmetic enhancement among impressionable audiences.

Implications and Future Directions

The insights garnered from the survey on consumer attitudes towards non-surgical cosmetic procedure legislation have profound implications for policymakers, healthcare professionals, and the cosmetic surgery industry at large. The clear demand for tighter regulations, especially concerning under-18s, coupled with concerns over the influence of social media on beauty standards, points towards an urgent need for comprehensive action.

For Policymakers

The overwhelming support for governmental intervention in regulating access to non-surgical cosmetic procedures for under-18s highlights a critical area for legislative focus. We are calling upon policymakers to develop and implement more stringent laws that restrict access based on age and ensure that practitioners are adequately qualified. This might involve creating or enhancing professional bodies overseeing the industry, establishing clear guidelines for practice, and enforcing standards to protect minors. Additionally, there is a notable demand for educational initiatives aimed at young people and their guardians, to raise awareness about the risks associated with cosmetic procedures and to promote realistic beauty standards.

For Healthcare Professionals

Medical practitioners, particularly those involved in cosmetic and aesthetic treatments, are encouraged to advocate for and adhere to higher standards of practice. This includes participating in ongoing education to keep abreast of the latest developments in cosmetic technology and techniques, and ensuring informed consent is obtained, especially when treating younger individuals. Healthcare professionals also have a role in public education, helping to dispel myths about cosmetic procedures and providing balanced information about the risks and benefits.

For the Cosmetic Surgery Industry

The industry must heed the public’s call for greater regulation and professional oversight. This involves actively supporting the establishment of regulatory bodies, adhering to strict ethical guidelines, and ensuring practitioners are well-trained and certified. The industry is also responsible for engaging in responsible marketing practices, particularly in social media, to ensure that advertising does not exploit vulnerabilities or contribute to unhealthy beauty standards.

Addressing Social Media's Influence

Given the significant impact of social media on young people’s perceptions of beauty and their desire for cosmetic procedures, there is a pressing need for collaboration between stakeholders - including social media platforms, educators, mental health experts, and the cosmetic surgery industry - to develop strategies that promote healthy body image and self-esteem. This could include content guidelines for influencers, educational campaigns targeted at young users, and features that offer support and resources on mental health and body image issues.

Future Directions

Moving forward, all stakeholders need to engage in open dialogue and collaboration to address the challenges highlighted by the survey. This might involve public consultations to further refine legislative proposals, research into the long-term effects of cosmetic procedures on young people, and the development of comprehensive resources to support informed decision-making.

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For advice on what to do if you find yourself struggling with the unwanted side effects of cosmetic surgery, browse Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors' services or call us today for legal advice. We will help you to understand your situation and advise you on your legal options. Contact our team at 0808 189 7720 or fill out an online contact form and we will call you back at a time convenient for you.

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Mike Saul


Michael Saul is a partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, where he brings his extensive specialist legal expertise and passion for helping people to the forefront of his work. With a proven track record of success in cosmetic surgery negligence cases, Michael has dedicated his career to providing clients with the highest level of representation and achieving favourable outcomes.

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