New topical anaesthetic rules threaten to push therapists out of skin needling
Why are some therapists abandoning microneedling treatments despite being completely within their rights to perform them? New rules from some local authorities in the UK are forcing salons to drop needling from their treatment menus.
Recently, barriers have been put in place for many salons that offer microneedling. Several local councils have contacted the salons that operate in their borough to let them know that the terms of their licence no longer allow them to sell or apply anaesthetic to their clients prior to needling treatments.
Like most points of contention that arise from the therapist/medic divide, any actual legalities around the issue are unclear, if non-existent. One salon owner who didn’t want to be named told us that she’d received the news from her council rep upon a visit to renew a licence. She was also informed that she could no longer use the same roller on multiple clients, regardless of the stringent sterilisation protocol advised by her distributor.
Despite being insured to provide the treatment, inclusive of supplying, patch testing and applying the appropriate topical anaesthetic to clients prior to treatment, she was asked to remove miconeedling from her menu. “I was gobsmacked as hadn’t heard anything about it. I even had refresher training booked for the treatment,” she says, adding that microblading technicians in her borough had faced the same issue, in that anyone non-medic could no longer sell and apply anaesthetic to clients.
The terms of her licence would still allow her to ask clients to apply their own anaesthetic, but she argues this could make the treatment unsafe: “Clients would have to patch test themselves and either apply while I watch or put it on before they come, and they’re unlikely to get it on correctly. I’ve got no control over that application and if it’s wrong then the whole appointment could be wasted, or worse,” she says.
Another salon owner who no longer carries out the treatment is Helen French, owner of Beauty by Helen French in Saint Helens. She was issued a notice from Environ distributor IIAA in April, which stated that because of the changes to many councils’ rules, a nurse or doctor would now have to apply her anaesthetic and be present for the duration of the needling treatment. “There have never been any issues in the past; the training from IIAA is extensive, everything has to be properly prepared to medical standards so that it’s all sterile,” says French.
With seemingly different rules from different training providers and in different boroughs, French is frustrated at not knowing where the safety message originated, or why it’s been given. “I understand the reasoning in terms of having someone medically trained there who could deal with complications if anything happens, but we’re not getting any answers and feel we’ve been stopped while others can still carry on,” she says.
Lee Holloway, health and safety advisor at IIAA, commented:“While there has been no direct change in legislation, IIAA has received increasing feedback about the inconsistent views of UK local environmental health authorities in relation to enforcing the Medicines Act.
“Some state it is an offence for non-medical persons to administer topical anaesthetic whilst others interpret that it is acceptable.Given the ambiguity of the current legal position and what appears to be increasing scrutiny, comment and intent to tighten accepted good practice and legal requirements in our sector from government, the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners and also from what we perceive to be public expectation…IIAA has taken the view that, to protect our salon customers from the legal and reputational impacts of the risks of topical anaesthesia and put them in a stronger position in relation to the perceived changing legal landscape, it now feels necessary to ask our skincare professionals to use topical anaesthetic under the guidance of a medically qualified professional.”
Have you had a similar experience? Comment and let us know.
Read our feature on needling treatments in the July issue of Professional Beauty. Subscribe to the print or digital edition here.