The NHS has told Superdrug it could do more to protect the mental health of customers who want injections to smooth skin or plump lips.
The High Street chain started offering Botox and dermal fillers last year.
But the NHS said the injections risked fuelling mental health disorders about appearance – and it was being left to pick up the pieces.
Superdrug said it was “fully committed” to the issue and was now enhancing mental health checks for customers.
- Botox is an injection of Botulinum toxin that relaxes muscles to temporarily hide lines and wrinkles.
- Dermal fillers are injections under the skin that can fill skin creases or lead to bigger lips.
Superdrug’s Skin Renew Service offers the cosmetic procedures to people over the age of 25.
But surgeons have criticised the company for treating Botox and fillers as “casual beauty treatments” on a par with having a wax.
The NHS is concerned about the impact on people who are mentally ill, including with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), in which people are fixated on what they think are flaws in their appearance.
The BDD Foundation says it can be a crippling illness and severely impair someone’s life.
Prof Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England, wrote to Superdrug’s chief executive, saying the company could do more to protect people who were seeking treatment because they were mentally unwell, or might have a mental health disorder triggered by treatment.
Prof Powis said: “Pressures on young people’s mental health are greater than they ever have been, with families and the health service too often left to pick up the pieces.
“The lack of tough checks on cosmetic surgery means that the public is dependent on businesses taking voluntary steps to get their house in order, leaving people avoidably exposed to dangerous practices.”
Superdrug said it already performs an hour-long consultation before cosmetic procedures take place and these include a mental health assessment.
The company said it would now ask specific questions about Body Dysmorphic Disorder: “We remain fully committed to including recommended protections for mental health. We met with the NHS to ensure we have the highest safety standards and quality of patient care.”
The do I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder questionnaire, made by the BDD Foundation, asks questions about how much people fixate about their appearance and how much it affects their day-to-day life.
Kitty Wallace, a trustee with the Foundation, said more than nine-in-ten people with BDD were satisfied with the results of their cosmetic procedures.
She said: “It is important that these measures are in place to protect such individuals from potentially damaging and unnecessary procedures.
“Although their anxiety might reduce temporarily, they will often find themselves fixating on another part of their body that they want to change.
“We commend that Superdrug will be screening for the disorder, and referring people who are positive to their GP and Mind.”