Hong Kong doctors will not need to be present all the time in supervising risky beauty procedures

Government sources also say medical practitioners will not have to have specialist qualifications to oversee these procedures

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2017, 9:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2017, 10:54pm

Doctors will not be required to be present throughout beauty procedures involving the use of risky medical devices or have specialist qualifications, according to a government proposal.

The clarification came from government sources ahead of a Legislative Council meeting on the regulation of medical devices on the coming Monday.

This came after the beauty sector expressed strong opposition to the strict regulation of devices in common use.

Hong Kong government unveils plan to regulate use of medical devices in beauty clinics

Under the government’s proposal, 15 types of devices that are most commonly used by non- medical practitioners for non-medical purposes, such as beauty treatment, will be regulated according to two levels of risk.

Sources said beauticians, who have completed government-recognised training, could either use the devices under the supervision of a registered doctor for riskier procedures or perform less risky ones alone.

“The ideal is to have a doctor in each treatment room ... but our concern is that doctors should assess customers before treatment and be available immediately if any emergency happens,” one source said.

Under the proposed plan, seven types of machines such as high-intensity focused ultrasound devices which claim to tighten skin, would require supervision from a doctor.

Procedures involving eight other types of machine, including microneedles, could be conducted alone by a trained beautician.

The source said the government would not limit how many beauticians one doctor could supervise, as the regulation was aimed at giving “flexibility” to practitioners.

The government would probably use beauty courses offered under its Qualifications Framework as recognised training for beauticians.

Lines blurred between beauty services and medical procedures

But how doctors were qualified to supervise beauticians raised questions as the source said specialist qualifications were not needed.

That means a general practitioner would be able to supervise the use of medical devices.

The source said doctors had undergone medical training and would have sufficient knowledge about operating the devices.

“Doctors have their own professional codes of conduct to make sure they are familiar with the operation of machines, or else they could face disciplinary action by the Medical Council,” the source said.

The bill implementing the new scheme will be submitted to the Legislative Council by mid-year. It will provide for a grace period before the system is implemented.

“We would give time for [beauty sector] practitioners to receive training ... The exact length needs to be discussed with other stakeholders,” the source said.

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Juliana Yang Hui-chun, spokeswoman for the Beauty Industry Reform Research and Development Committee, questioned whether all doctors were familiar with the operation of beauty devices.

“It is a responsible act to customers only if doctors have undergone relevant training,” Yang said.

She was concerned whether there would be enough doctors to supervise beauty procedures as the city had around 5,000 to 6,000 parlours.

Trained beauticians would also be qualified to carry out health assessments before carrying out procedures, she said.

In another development, five medical groups involved in plastic surgery and dermatology said in a joint statement that they supported the regulation of medical devices according to risk and users’ knowledge.