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How regulation changes in cosmetic medicine impact the industry

2 Jun 2018, by Informa Insights

Cosmetic regulatory changes mean more streamlining and less inexperience. So, how will this impact your cosmetic business?


The cosmetic industry is booming. As quick as cosmetic fads come and go these days procedures evolve just as readily to keep up. Non-surgical procedures are more popular than ever; the likes of laser hair removal, injectables, microdermabrasion and skin peels all readily accessible in medical practitioners’ rooms and in beauty salons across the country.

This rapidly-changing industry is tough to measure however, according to a 2016 report by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council, estimates suggest cosmetic surgery is now a billion-dollar industry. [1] The same report stated that nonsurgical cosmetic procedures had increased at around 40 to 50 percent over the previous five years.

The ‘would you like a holiday with that’ cosmetic tourism industry is also on high demand. Those undergoing procedures can opt for cut-price overseas vacations and come back not only refreshed but also cosmetically-enhanced.

Countries such as south-east Asia capitalise on the cosmetic trade, that of which is estimated to bring in between 20 and 40 billion US dollars annually. At the time the above report was published, this figure was estimated to increase to 100 billion by 2018 (this year). Unfortunately, what many of these cosmetic tourists don’t realise is the potential increased risks associated with overseas procedures. But, is it actually any riskier than undergoing a procedure locally?


The Australian cosmetic industry at a glance

Much like our health sector by large, Australia’s cosmetic regulatory framework is generally more stringent than some overseas countries. Australian practitioners must meet registration guidelines, licensing, consumer legislation, correct insurances, public health measures, and also meet regulations of devices and substances used in their procedures.

However, while cosmetic procedures in our country are carried out by fully trained medical practitioners who have completed advanced and specialist training, patients still have untapped access to those not so thoroughly trained. And this is completely legal. How?

Regulatory provisions permit any registered medical practitioner the authority to brand themselves a cosmetic surgeon or physician if they so desire. This promotes a sense of specialty without actually having to undergo any advanced or specialist training in the area.

And, this has raised a few regulatory eyebrows (colloquially speaking). Giving reason for an industry crackdown, some of the issues recently looked at include:

  • Unregistered practitioners in the cosmetic industry are able to operate on their own, without a common code of conduct or list of core practice standards
  • The application of ‘Schedule 4 substances’ like Botox generates concerns regarding access to these prescription-only substances, and the training and supervision of those who administer the substance
  • The required training for lasers and intense pulsed light (IPL) sources varies and the procedures are not fully regulated in all jurisdictions


So, how does the cosmetic industry big brother keep track of the who and the what? Regulatory amendments of course.

In May 2016, the Medical Board of Australia announced their regulatory changes. Changes came into effect in October 2016, some of which were expected to enhance the legislation of cosmetic medicine. However, these changes only impact registered medical practitioners (registered under The National Law) who provide cosmetic medical and surgical procedures. Other registered health professionals such as nurses and beauty therapists, or those unregistered providers of cosmetic procedures, are exempt from the regulations as they are not governed by The Medical Board.

Some of the major regulations include the advertising of and access to financing schemes for patients, compliance with the Medical Board’s Guidelines for Advertising of Regulated Health Services to name just a couple.


Cosmetic medicine has had a facelift. What can you do?

To make sure that your practice is fully compliant and across the entire scope of regulations and requirements, come along to our National Cosmetic Medicine Summit. Designed to educate the cosmetic industry, this National Cosmetic Medicine Summit will address all pending issues and regulatory changes across board.

The event is being held on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th August 2018.

The early bird ticket price expires on 15th June. Save some of your educational budget, and the last-minute rush – book online now!


1. Cosmetic Medical and Surgical Procedures a National Framework Final Report: Inter-Jurisdictional Cosmetic Surgery Working Group Clinical, Technical and Ethical Principal Committee, Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council

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