ASA cracks down on beauty salons and clinics advertising sclerotherapy

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has cracked down on beauty salons and aesthetic clinics advertising sclerotherapy procedures that require the use of a prescription-only medicine. 

Several recent rulings have been made against businesses that advertised the procedure on their social media channels.

Following legislation, ASA rules make it clear that businesses can’t advertise prescription-only medicines to the public.

The ASA said in a statement, “Ensuring these rules are followed is a high priority area for us. For example, following an Enforcement Notice in 2020 to the industry, we’ve seen fifty thousand ads for Botox withdrawn from Instagram, with Meta’s assistance.

“Sclerotherapy – a treatment for varicose veins, done for aesthetics as well as to reduce aching, swelling and cramping – requires the use of a prescription-only medicine. As such, it can’t be advertised towards the general public.”

The banned adverts all broke the rules by advertising sclerotherapy on social media. 

Some of the salons and clinics responsible said they had thought they could advertise the sclerotherapy procedure providing they didn’t name and promote the prescription-only products used within it.

However, these ads were all found to have breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 12.12 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

The ASA told the offending salons and clinics involved to ensure their future content follows the rules. 

An additional advert was banned for promoting training courses for sclerotherapy, without making clear the requirements, qualifications and possible professional registration details of the course.

The crackdown has been implemented to remind practitioners to be mindful of the rules around prescription-only medicines. 

The code states that these ads should not appear on social media. On websites, they can advertise a service but not a specific product. They should avoid before-and-after photos, special offers or prizes.

Miles Lockwood, director of complaints and investigations at the ASA said: “It’s really important that ads aren’t marketing prescription-only medicines to the public. Those are rules set out in legislation, and we enforce them to ensure that consumers are protected.

“We know that sole traders and small businesses aren’t always aware of the how the rules apply to their work, particularly online and on social media. 

“These rulings, alongside our training programmes, will remind businesses of their responsibilities around advertising treatments that use prescription-only medicines.” 

More detail about the rulings, and the salons and clinics involved, can be found on the ASA website.

Read more on how to promote aesthetic treatments on social media in an ethical way