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Cosmetic Implants Linked to Mad Cow Disease

>From <www.timesonline.co.uk>

January 29, 2005

Lip implant tissue link with mad cow disease
By Sam Lister

One in six cosmetic surgery firms may be closed as fears for patients'
health prompt a clampdown

FEARS that cosmetic implants used in lips and cheeks could trigger vCJD, the
human form of "mad cow" disease, have prompted the Government to launch an
investigation.

Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, said that experts were
examining the possibility that tissue implants such as collagen could
transmit blood-borne diseases such as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease if
contaminated. Although no evidence of such transmission has been discovered,
the committee on microbiological safety of blood and tissues believes there
might be a risk.

Society's obsession with high cheekbones and luscious lips have prompted
thousands of Britons to resort to implants to enhance their features.

Mockingly termed the "trout pout", a collagen lip injection is one of the
most common treatments, which costs as little as £300. Rumoured recipients
of collagen, a fibrous protein which bonds tissue in the body, include
celebrities such as Liz Hurley, Kylie Minogue and Leslie Ash.

The expert group's study of a range of aesthetic fillers, which are often
made from human or bovine tissue, had already found samples containing
material from dead bodies and birds, Sir Liam added.

The investigation is part of an overhaul of the cosmetic treatments
industry, designed to root out the growing number of "cowboys" offering
unregulated procedures such as Botox injections, implants and chemical skin
peels. Under new rules, rogue clinics will be shut and practitioners
prosecuted in an attempt to improve patient safety. As many as a sixth of
providers could be forced to close.

The move follows a surge in demand for cosmetic procedures, some of which
are avail-able at not only clinics but also at hairdressing and beauty
salons and even as gifts administered at people's homes. Sir Liam said some
providers were illegally advertising Botox, which is a prescription drug.

From next April, legal action will be taken against any providers who are
not registered with the Healthcare Commission, the health watchdog, and fail
to comply with its regulations. Of the 20,000 providers in England,
identified through medical lists, advertisements, phone directories and the
internet, just 100 are registered and subject to the commission's annual
inspection. It believes at least 15 per cent would not meet necessary
standards.

The Government's hard line is in response to reports published yesterday by
the commission and the experts' group headed by Harry Cayton, the national
director for Patients and the Public. Both reports call for tighter controls
of a rapidly expanding industry.

Mr Cayton said the group had found a "diverse range" of sources of implant
tissue. Many fillers did not fall under any type of regulation because they
used human tissue products.

The Government said it would follow all the recommendations, revealed by
The Times this week, including: mandatory specialist training for doctors
and nurses, who must be registered with a professional body; clearer
definitions of the procedures and what they involve; and a clampdown on
cut-price deals. The commission is to carry out more spot checks on clinics.

"Cosmetic procedures are a rapidly growing area of private healthcare," Sir
Liam said. "Some (people) are disappointed with the outcome but a minority
can suffer serious harm or disfigurement.We must ensure we properly protect
patients' safety by improving the training, regulation and information
provided."

Simon Gillespie, head of operations at the commission, said that it had
found there was good compliance with current regulations among cosmetic
surgery providers, especially among larger operators. "But we did find and
have concerns about the number of organisations that did not fall under the
scope or regulations(where) there could be some increases in risk to
patients, and patients did not realise that they were receiving a medical
procedure."

MOST POPULAR TREATMENTS

The number of cosmetic procedures rose by more than 50 per cent last year,
with women having 92 per cent of the 16,367 operations

TOP FIVE FOR WOMEN
Breast enlargement, 3,731
Breast reduction, 2,417
Eyelid surgery, 1,993
Face/neck lift, 1,511
Tummy tuck, 1,465

TOP FIVE FOR MEN
Nose reshaping, 362
Ear pinning, 295
Eyelid surgery, 280
Liposuction, 130
Face/neck lift, 93

Operations conducted by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic
Surgeons