Cosmetic Treatment Troubles: Danger Lurking in Catchphrase ‘You Can Be Beautiful’

Troubles over contract details and health problems are increasing regarding cosmetic treatments such as wrinkle removal and weight loss. The government should take the lead in grasping the actual situation and work to prevent damage.

According to the National Consumer Affairs Center, the number of consultations about problems related to cosmetic treatments exceeded 6,000 last fiscal year, more than tripling in five years. There were many consultations involving troubles over contracts, such as claims over high fees, and about 900 cases were related to health damage.

People of all ages and both sexes have a growing desire to be beautiful, and interest in cosmetic treatments is increasing. This may be accompanied by an increase in the number of malicious beauty clinics.

As for health damage, there have been many serious cases, such as deaths from liposuction surgery and blindness from injections of impregnating agents to make the nose taller. However, the extent of these problems has not been known in detail.

There must be some people who are hesitant to report damage because they do not want other people to know that they have undergone cosmetic treatments.

For that reason, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry intends to establish a study group of doctors and other experts as early as this summer and discuss measures against harm caused by cosmetic treatments. It is hoped that the panel will gather information from affected patients and consider measures to prevent a recurrence.

Since cosmetic treatments are medical practices undertaken at one’s own choice and people who want to receive the treatments cover the entire cost themselves, the government has not confirmed their details or safety in advance, unlike treatments covered by health insurance. It is necessary to fully understand this point.

It is essential to receive an explanation from doctors about the risks and side effects and to discern the balance between them and the benefits.

In addition, there have been a number of cases of burns and other damage caused by devices that irradiate ultrasonic waves to remove wrinkles and sagging skin. There have reportedly also been cases of treatments being performed at aesthetic salons by staff without medical qualifications.

Recently, the problem of diabetes medication being inappropriately prescribed as drugs with weight-loss effects for cosmetic purposes has also come to light. Not only does this prevent the drugs from reaching diabetic patients, there are concerns that their casual use can also cause severe hypoglycemia and pancreatitis.

It may be necessary for the government to set certain restrictions to prevent people without professional qualifications from using the devices or prescribing drugs for other than their original purposes.

In recent years, an increasing number of young doctors are entering the cosmetic treatment field. It is said that this is because they can expect high remuneration.

In contrast, such fields as gastrointestinal surgery and cardiovascular surgery are facing a serious shortage of doctors. It has been pointed out that this is because the working schedule is harsher than that of cosmetic treatments and others, and their conditions are inadequate. It is necessary to make efforts to identify these issues in the future.

(From the Yomiuri Shimbun, June 19, 2024)