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PRESCRIPTION only products like Botox are being administered by unqualified individuals as part of Ireland dodgy beauty boom, it’s been revealed.

Illegally botox is also been moved through hair salons, labels on products are being removed to avoid detection, and prescription medications are being smuggled across the border from Northern Ireland.

The documentary show shocking footage of an untrained person administering Botox from her bedroomCredit: RTE
The illegal clinics are prone to infections due to a lack of sterilisationCredit: RTE
Dr Eithne Brenner urges the Government to enforce regulations to prevent people under 18 from getting botoxCredit: RTE

And health experts say the dodgy practices are opening patiences “up for so many risks”, such as infection, abscess, or worse.

The bombshell RTE Investigates report, to be aired tonight, which shines a light on the beauty industry’s ugly side here.

The shocking footage shows how some hair salons are using illegal Botox.

It also highlights how easy it is to buy prescription-only medication, and how people are bringing them across the border.

The aesthetics industry in the country is rising with record numbers of people seeking cosmetic procedures, with lots of different treatments ranging from cosmetic to clinical, which has gained popularity.

It also mentioned how the lack of regulation in Ireland has allowed the sudden rise in risky practices in the sector.

The aesthetic beauty industry covers everything from lip fillers to anti-wrinkle injections, thread-lifts, teeth procedures, and much more.

Not only do reputable street clinics provide these treatments, but people on social media platforms also do so without the scrutiny of regulations.

Most read in The Irish Sun

Nikki Dwyer, a beauty industry expert, said: “There is a fundamental misunderstanding about what the actual aesthetics industry is and about the products that are being used.

“One of the problems that  present in A&E’s clinics around the country is botched filler. Filler is not considered to be a prescription drug. It’s a medical device.

“So anybody can use a medical device. I can go and do a two-day online course on how to inject fillers and I can get insured and legally inject fillers in this country.”

By law, only doctors, dentists or registered nurses under the direction of a medical doctor can administer botox.

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Dr Eithne Brenner, Chairperson of the Irish Faculty of the British College of Aesthetic Medicine said: “This is a prescription only medicine. In Ireland the rules are clear. And anyone else is acting illegally.”

An undercover investigator reveals in tonight’s RTE expose how an unlicensed and untrained person is operating a beauty shop out of her Dublin bedroom and promoting her business on Facebook.

And the business owner stated that: “You don’t need to sterilise, with Botox I’m using a very small insulin needle.”

Dr Sana Askary, a member of the Aesthetics Complications Expert group, strongly condemned this claim, and warned: “That’s just opening up you up for so many risks. Infection, abscess. Of course, you have to sterilise before an injection.”

Unlike in England, where it’s illegal to administer Botox to those under 18, there are no regulations to restrict the age here.

Regulation review calls

There have been calls to review the regulation in the area of non-surgical cosmetic services.

Introduced in 2016, the Patient Safety (licencing) Bill was reviewed by an Oireachtas Health committee in 2018 but it has been eight years since its introduction and hasn’t come through the Dail.

As part of their investigation, RTE reporter Pamela Fraher set up a fake aesthetic clinic by creating a page on social media for her clients to contact.

She completed an online academy, where she learned a 20-minute video instruction on how to administer Botox and received a certificate to show that she had “successfully” completed the course.

The documentary also reveals how mass volumes of prescription products are being flown and posted to Newry, which beauticians have collected nationwide.

Border botox

The undercover RTE Investigates reporter is told by a prominent supplier who is selling significant quantities of unlicensed Botox from Korea: “You put them in your bag, drive across the border. No police, no customs, no nothing.”

He continued: “I have other girls who drive all the way from Clare, from Limerick, from Cork. All over the country. And they all go pick it up.

“See, the thing is, I used to have a girl in Newry who used to pick it up, then go across the border to Dundalk and then post. The other facility I have in Newry where I send all of my parcels, and all get picked up there. 

“I have a lady in Clare, she sends the husband up because she is buying such a lot from me. She’s buying like £4,000-£5,000 pounds worth of stuff every month. There’s about 10-12 girls in Dublin [I supply].”

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The Health Products Regulatory Authority revealed that in the past three years, they have detained more than 10,000 dosage units of medicines containing botulinum toxin, hyaluronidase or lidocaine.

And the detentions of items containing botulinum toxin raised by more than 400 per cent in 2023.

Over six months of research, RTE Investigates found a lot of people handling, marketing, and getting ready to inject medication illegally – a lot of it being unlicensed Botox that is imported from Korea.

The HPRA said they “have taken four successful prosecutions for breaches of legislation pertaining to the administering, distributing, selling or advertising of prescription medicines containing botulinum toxin”. 

The Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons President expressed his disbelief and shock after seeing the undercover video of specific individuals in the country’s beauty sector, and he has warned of the potential damage to the public.

Read more on the Irish Sun

Professor Jack Kelly said: “This is actually more urgent than many people realise and more and more patients are being put at risk.

  • RTE Investigates: Botox & Beauty at Any Costs, airs tonight at 9.35pm on RTE One and RTE Player.
RTE Investigates reporter Pamela Fraher set up a fake aesthetic clinicCredit: RTE

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