Latest tragedy underscores need for better regulation of beauty treatment

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 July, 2014, 4:33am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 July, 2014, 9:08am

The community has been shocked by yet another fatality involving beauty treatment. Last Thursday, a 32-year-old woman lost consciousness and died during a fat removal procedure at a hair transplant centre in a commercial building. A day later, the health chief announced that the regulatory proposals spurred by similar incidents in the past would be put to public consultation later this year.

That another life was lost in the meantime is highly regrettable. Working groups of a steering committee, set up after "therapeutic treatment" killed a woman and made three others ill in 2012, have already rolled out various recommendations. Unfortunately, the need to further consult the industry and give the measures legislative backing means implementation is still nowhere in sight.

The high-profile incident has understandably drawn a wealth of expert comment. Exactly what went wrong during the treatment will be the subject of investigation, possibly followed by an inquest. Liposuction, as the health chief has confirmed, is unequivocally a medical procedure. While a registered doctor was said to be in charge at the scene, the location - inside a hair transplant centre - has raised disturbing questions. It underlines the need to extend regulation from medical practitioners to places in which the treatment takes place. The proposal to license private health care premises should be made a priority.

Until new guidelines and legislation are in place, the lines between health, beauty and medical treatment will remain blurred. New technologies and innovation further complicate regulation and leave it lagging. Advice from qualified medical practitioners is important. Consumers should also think twice before taking risky treatment.

The high number of complaints related to beauty services - 1,081 last year - calls for better regulation and discipline. The tragedy should inject a sense of urgency into the revamp. At no time should safety be compromised.