Doctors and beauticians clash over government proposal to monitor cosmetic treatments

Only medical staff would be allowed to carry out 'high-risk' treatments under government plan

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 December, 2013, 4:51pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 December, 2013, 3:35am

Medical practitioners and beauticians were at loggerheads yesterday over the government's proposal to regulate the beauty industry, drafted after a tragedy at a local beauty centre last year.

At a special meeting of the Legislative Council's health services panel, medical practitioners backed a government plan to ban beauticians from performing cosmetic treatments classified as high-risk procedures.

"High-risk procedures should be carried out by doctors," said Professor Lau Chak-sing, vice-president of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine. "We support the proposal to differentiate between medical and beauty procedures."

Last year, a woman died and three others fell seriously ill after receiving blood transfusion "therapy" at a DR beauty centre.

In a recent proposal for a new guideline under the Medical Registration Ordinance, the government suggested that only doctors would be allowed to perform "high-risk" procedures including injecting Botox and conducting chemical peels.

While medical practitioners supported the proposal, they also urged the government to speed up its study into how medical devices such as lasers should be regulated.

A report on this is expected to be submitted by the government to Legco early next year.

Beauticians expressed concerns that if certain procedures could only be done by doctors, prices for beauty treatments would go up.

This could lead Hongkongers to be less inclined to go to beauty parlours and industry figures argued some beauticians could lose their jobs.

"The price could go up by 10 times," Ivy Sin, chairman of the Hong Kong Beauty and Hair Care Employees' Union, said.

"Why doesn't the government just introduce a licensing system and require beauticians to take exams?"

Candy Chu, secretary for the Federation of Beauty Industry, questioned why doctors thought they were more capable than beauticians of carrying out cosmetic procedures.

"I want to ask you all here, what kind of cosmetic training have doctors received? What professional qualifications have they acquired?" Chu asked the health services panel.