May 17 -As the trial of the makers of PIP breast implants comes to a close in France, cosmetic surgeons in Britain warn that dermal fillers are the latest cause for concern, due to Europe's relatively loose regulation. As Joanna Partridge reports, plastic surgeons have called for tighter regulation of the industry, but fear it may not be implemented quickly enough.
Turning back time. Mother-of-one Helle Pettersen wants to freshen up her looks with botox and dermal fillers at the Cadogan Clinic in central London. Demand for anti-ageing treatments is growing fast in Britain. But plastic surgeons warn fillers are a cosmetic crisis waiting to happen. Bryan Mayou runs the Cadogan Clinic. SOUNDBITE: Bryan Mayou, Plastic surgeon and director of Cadogan Clinic, saying (English): "Anybody could make a filler, you could put engine oil in a syringe and sell it now. And it's legal, which is ridiculous. So it should come under the same body which is looking after implants. There are all these very entrepreneurial people out there who are making the best of the situation, they're making a lot of money." From breast implants, to facelifts and fillers, the cosmetic surgery business is booming in Britain. Sales hit a total of 2.3 billion pounds in 2010. They're forecast to rise to 3.6 billion by 2015. Plastic surgeons say European regulation is too lax, and products don't have to meet the standards required by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. SOUNDBITE: Bryan Mayou, Plastic surgeon and director of Cadogan Clinic, saying (English): "The FDA is a much better body in this respect, and so there isn't the problem with fillers in the States because they don't approve them. These three different types of fillers, there's the ones that dissolve away, the ones that are semi-permanent, those that are permanent. In the States they only use ones that dissolve away and it should the same here." The trial of the makers of PIP breast implants has just ended in France. The firm was run by Jean-Claude Mas, he admits making substandard silicone implants. The scandal triggered a global health scare - and led to a British government review of the cosmetic surgery industry. Plastic surgeons say the review didn't look into fillers - which can have terrible consequences if injected wrongly. Rajiv Grover is President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. SOUNDBITE: Rajiv Grover, Plastic surgeon and President of the British Association of Aethestic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), saying (English): "There have been cases of blindness, not because the filler was injected necessarily anywhere near the eye, but just in the region of the face, by bad luck or not knowing the blood supply of the eye." BAAPS are calling for fillers to be reclassified as medicines - needing a prescription and to be injected by a doctor. Helle is pleased with her new look. But until regulation catches up with the booming cosmetic surgery business, patients visiting less reputable clinics may end up with lasting damage, instead of a fresher appearance.