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New regulations expected for optometrists performing non-surgical cosmetic procedures

Optometrists providing non-surgical cosmetic services around the eye may need to grapple with new rules governing the way they perform these procedures and how they are advertised via testimonials and before and after images.

Amid a crackdown on the cosmetic surgery industry, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the National Boards are consulting on three documents over the regulation of registered health practitioners offering non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

Luke Arundel, Optometry Australia.

The consultation will be of interest to some optometrists who have broadened their service to focus on skin treatments in periorbital region with intense pulsed light (IPL) and other technologies.

Optometry Australia chief clinical officer Mr Luke Arundel confirmed to Insight the Ahpra consultation could have implications for optometry.

“We have noted recently some member interest in providing non-surgical cosmetic services and it will be important for optometrists who provide such services to comply with any changes in regulatory requirements ongoing,” he said.

According to Ahpra, non-surgical cosmetic procedures do not involve cutting beneath the skin but may involve piercing the skin or altering other body tissue (for example teeth).

Other examples include cosmetic injectables such as dermal fillers, fat dissolving injections, thread lifts, sclerotherapy and microsclerotherapy, CO2 laser skin resurfacing, cryolipolysis (fat freezing), laser hair removal, dermabrasion, chemical peels, and hair transplants.

Ahpra said the non-surgical cosmetic procedures sector had unique features that increased public risk, including:

  • a lack of clear information about the qualifications and experience of practitioners in the sector
  • advertising that minimises the risk and complexity of a procedure or implies unrealistic results
  • high numbers of young and potentially vulnerable people seeking the procedures
  • generating demand and ‘upselling’ procedures and products
  • financial gain competing with and sometimes outweighing patient wellbeing and safety
  • ongoing cost and frequency of procedures required by patients to maintain outcomes.

If applied, the changes would apply to any registered health practitioner performing non-surgical cosmetic procedures. However, it will exclude medical practitioners who already had their own cosmetic practice guidelines implemented 1 July 2023.

“Much like the Medical Board’s new cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines – now in place – these advertising guidelines include guidance around issues such as before and after images, claims about experience and qualifications and the ban on the use of testimonials. The use of social media influencers is also a focus,” Ahpra stated.

The consultation is open for 10 weeks, closing on 2 February 2024.

More reading

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