Avoid aesthetic procedures by beauticians, unlicensed practitioners

Health authorities, medical associations and regulatory bodies have been raising red flags about their potential risks and dangers 

THE pursuit of beauty has always been an inherent human desire, with aesthetic procedures becoming increasingly popular worldwide. Malaysia beauty industry has witnessed substantial growth, driven by factors such as increased disposable income, heightened beauty standards perpetuated by social media and a plethora of beauty influencers promoting various procedures. 

However, this growing trend comes with a concerning caveat: The rise of risky aesthetic procedures performed by untrained beauticians or unlicensed practitioners. 

Aesthetic procedures encompass a wide range of treatments, from non-invasive and minimal invasive to invasive procedures. 

The non-invasive procedure only targets outer layers of the skin such as superficial chemical peel, facial therapy and microdermabrasion that may be performed by beautician. Minimal invasive and invasive procedures are categorised as medical aesthetic treatment. Minimal invasive targets deeper skin layers and muscles such as botulinum toxin, dermal fillers, laser and high-intensity focus ultrasound while invasive procedures, on the other hand, are all the surgical procedures that need cutting and perforating the inner layer of the human body such as nasoplasty, breast implant or liposuction. 

They must be performed by qualified medical professionals who have undergone rigorous training and obtained the necessary licenses. 

Lack of Awareness 

Despite the allure of aesthetic procedures, health authorities, medical associations and regulatory bodies have been raising red flags about the potential risks and dangers associated with these treatments. 

These warnings are not merely attempts to dampen enthusiasm but are grounded in genuine concern for the well-being and safety of individuals. 

However, disturbing trend emerges where a significant portion of the general public continues to embrace risky aesthetic procedures despite stern warnings issued by authoritative bodies. 

The pervasive influence of social media platforms contributes to unrealistic beauty standards and fuels the desire for instantaneous transformations as influencers and celebrities often flaunt their seemingly flawless appearances, creating an illusion of attainable perfection. 

This constant exposure can lead individuals to ignore or underestimate the potential dangers of these procedures. 

A desire for quick results and an impatience to achieve desired outcomes can lead individuals to seek shortcuts, often bypassing medical expertise and proper research. This desperation can cloud judgment and make individuals more susceptible to falling prey to unscrupulous practitioners. Medical aesthetic procedures are complex medical interventions that require an understanding of anatomy, physiology and potential complications. Many individuals lack the knowledge to differentiate between qualified professionals and unlicensed practitioners, leaving them vulnerable to making uninformed decisions. 

The Regulatory Void 

As the demand for aesthetic procedures surges, the absence of comprehensive regulations and oversight in Malaysia’s beauty industry has paved the way for unscrupulous practitioners and unlicensed clinics to thrive. 

This regulatory void has created a breeding ground for dangerous practices, putting the health and well-being of the public at risk. 

The beauty industry has evolved rapidly, outpacing the development of appropriate legislation and regulations. The absence of up-to-date laws tailored to address the complexities of modern aesthetic procedures leaves room for ambiguity and loopholes that unscrupulous practitioners can exploit. 

Some aesthetic procedures fall into a grey area where they may not be classified as medical procedures requiring strict regulation. This ambiguity allows untrained beauticians and practitioners from unrelated fields to perform procedures without the necessary qualifications or oversight. Even when regulations exist, lax enforcement can hinder their effectiveness. This enables unlicensed practitioners to operate with impunity, putting public safety in jeopardy. 

Word Of Advice 

According to the Malaysia Ministry of Health (MoH) Act, 586 (Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998) and Aesthetic Medical Practice Guidelines 2013, medical aesthetic procedures can only be performed by registered medical practitioners (doctors) with Letter of Credentialing and Privileging (LCP) in licensed premises. 

The regulation stipulated that all medical professionals need to follow very stringent rules before performing the procedure to safeguard public health. 

Three main checklists are:

Premise license (clinic license given by MoH – i.e., Form B or Form F) — http://medicalprac.moh.gov.my/v2/modules/mastop_ publish/?tac=SENARAI_KLINIK_PERUBATAN_SWASTA 

Doctor full medical registration by Malaysia Medical Council (MMC) and valid Annual Practice Certificate provided by MMC — https://meritsmmc.moh.gov.my/search 

LCP license that stated the type of procedure they can perform given by the Aesthetic Medical Practice Division of MoH — https://www.moh.gov.my/index.php/pages/view/2118 

The pursuit of beauty should never compromise an individual’s health and well-being. Ignorance or lack of awareness regarding risky aesthetic procedures performed by beauticians or unlicensed practitioners in Malaysia poses a serious threat to consumers. 

By implementing stricter regulations, raising public awareness and promoting responsible practices, Malaysia can ensure its booming beauty industry continues to flourish while safeguarding the health and safety of its citizens. 

It is imperative for individuals to prioritise their health and make informed decisions when considering aesthetic procedures, choosing only qualified professionals who adhere to the highest standards of safety and ethics. 

  • Assoc Prof Dr Ungku Mohd Shahrin Ungku Mohd Zaman is the president of Malaysian Registered Medical Aesthetic Doctors Organisation 
  • This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board and its owners. 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition