Ban on botox for under 18s being considered as ‘matter of priority’

Minister for Health wants department to outline public health risks of using fillers

A ban on under-18s being treated with Botox or dermal fillers is being investigated as part of plans to tighten up regulation of cosmetic procedures in the State.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has asked his officials to see if there is a need to further regulate the sector amid growing evidence internationally that teenagers are accessing cosmetic treatments.

Mr Harris wants his department to outline the public health risks for men and women using Botox and fillers and to explore how these risks can be communicated to the public.

“While the profession and the products are regulated, I am conscious that this is an industry that is continuing to grow and, particularly worryingly, it is targeting young men and women,” he said.


“Many of these products are being offered cheaply, without prior assessment of the person and by professionals who are not regulated in this country.

“This is not an issue solely confined to Ireland but one that I believe we need to address as a matter of priority. This cannot be an area that goes unregulated or unsupervised.”

The department, which was instrumental in the ban imposed in 2014 on under-18s using sunbeds, is now looking at whether a minimum age should be imposed on the use of certain cosmetic products.

Mixed regulation

Cosmetic procedures are currently regulated through a mix of professional regulation, applying to doctors and dentists supplying the procedures, and product regulation. Some products, such as medicines containing the botulinum toxin, are prescription-only, while others are treated as medical devices.

Botox, which is used to smooth wrinkles, has to be administered by a medical doctor, but dermal filler products are classified as medical devices and can be injected into the face by practitioners without a medical degree.

From next year, products used for aesthetic purposes that currently do not fall within the definition of a cosmetic product or a medicine, including dermal fillers, may be classified as medical devices under new EU legislation.

Under patient-safety legislation being prepared by the department, public and private hospitals, and providers of high-risk healthcare activities – including some cosmetic procedures – taking place outside a hospital will require a licence to operate.

The Health Information and Quality Authority will also be given wider powers to monitor private hospital and inspect the provision of cosmetic procedures and other services.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.