Beauty clinic blunders in Hong Kong reveal need for strict regulation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 December, 2017, 5:10pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 December, 2017, 11:01pm

Despite often reported, and sometimes fatal, blunders in the beauty treatment sector, including the latest for which a doctor was jailed for 12 years for manslaughter, there is still no effective regulation of these clinics in Hong Kong.

No single government department monitors such clinics or the equipment they use to make sure it is safe. There are no disciplinary boards to review the training and qualifications of beauticians. This means that some of the procedures offered may put customers at risk.

It is high time the government cracked down on unscrupulous procedures in the medical beauty industry. And it is also up to stakeholders in the sector to act responsibly.

In the short term, the relevant government department should raise public awareness, so that customers ask pertinent questions and look closely at treatment offered, for example, facelifts and Botox injections. Also, the department should publish a list of beauty centres with a bad track record.

The industry should also self-regulate and provide comprehensive training, so that it only employs qualified practitioners. Even the simplest procedures should be done by employees who have sufficient training.

It is only through these measures that the medical beauty industry can improve its public image.

Legislation must be drafted, with clearly defined regulations governing all beauty clinics and requiring fully qualified doctors to be present for certain procedures.

In order to maintain good standards of service, the government department should also regulate training courses for beauty practitioners and set up the standardised assessments to enhance professionalism in the long term in the beauty industry.

It needs to clarify the role of beauticians and provide a definition of cosmetic procedures in Hong Kong. The legislation presented to lawmakers should not stall in drawn-out debate but be expedited, so that action can be taken as soon as possible against unethical beauty treatment vendors and untrained medical personnel offering substandard and unsafe services.

A disciplinary board must be set up to review, register and recognise the training and qualifications of beauticians.

What is crucial is full cooperation between the government and stakeholders. This can reduce the risk of fatal blunders and ensure the beauty treatment sector is safe for all customers in Hong Kong.

Kong Lok-son, Tseung Kwan O