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'Anyone can give Botox jabs in Sweden': report

Rebecca Martin · 25 May 2011, 10:35

Published: 25 May 2011 10:35 GMT+02:00

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Using fillers, substances that are injected under the skin to fill out wrinkles or saggy areas, is becoming increasingly common in Sweden and in the rest of the world.

But in Sweden, these are classified as medical devices (and not drugs) and can therefore be administered by anyone, regardless of training and without any demands of specialist knowledge in anatomy, nerves or muscles, according to SVT.

Ulf Samuelsson, a surgeon and chairman of the Swedish association of aesthetic plastic surgery (Svensk förening för estetisk plastikkirurgi) thinks that it is important that anyone administering fillers should have solid training.

“You must know exactly what you are doing and deal with any complications that might arise. I definitely think that they should be qualified medical staff,” said Samuelsson to SVT.

He thinks that the reason that the rules are so lax is that when they were written fillers weren’t around and the market hadn’t yet exploded to the extent it has today.

“The National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) has been caught by surprise, although the road to here has been long,“ Samuelsson said to SVT.

According to Stina Auer, a qualified nurse at the Stockholm beauty salon Ellipsekliniken, the hazards of having unqualified staff administering fillers and botox is substantial.

“To avoid the facial nerve, or facial bones for that matter, is tricky. Maybe you’ll manage with nine patients, but the tenth could be paralysed for the rest of their life. Then it is not as fun, and not as easy,” Auer told SVT.

Up until last summer, anyone administering the neurotoxin Botox to customers had to be medically qualified.

But today, anyone can do it, whether it is the nail technician, the beauty therapist or the weekly cleaner, just as long as the manager of the salon has approved them for the job.

And the manager of the salon does not need to be medically trained either, according to SVT.

At the beginning of SVT’s interview with Per Anders Sunesson, director at the department of supervision at the National Board of Health and Welfare, he defended the existing rules.

“It is up to the manager to decide. It does seem a little confusing, but these are the rules we go by,“ he said to SVT.

Sunesson first said that he believed having unqualified staff injecting Botox to be ‘absolutely’ safe for customers but when probed a little further by the journalist he started to change his mind, according to SVT.

“My personal opinion is that the regulations need to be tougher. And especially regarding Botox, definitely. We ought to quickly look into whether this area might need its own set of rules,“ he said.

Story continues below…

To surgeon Ulf Samuelsson it is inconceivable that someone without medical training should be allowed to administer a substance like neurotoxin Botox.

“I think that it sounds very strange that a drug can be administered by unqualified staff without a medical presence. It sounds very odd to me,“ he said.

And when SVT spoke to a doctor in France, where the rules are different, the reaction was one of horror.

“To me it is absolutely impossible to understand that anyone who isn’t a doctor is allowed to do this. I can’t believe that what you say is true! This is super-dangerous. You could die! I could mistakenly inject the stuff into an artery and then it would be the end,“ the doctor told SVT.

Rebecca Martin (rebecca.martin@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:34 May 25, 2011 by Nemesis
This is insane.

Anyone injecting anything into the human body should have training in what they are doing.

They don't have to be trained as well as a nurse, just trained by a medical trainer so that they know what they are doing. It only takes a couple of days training.
11:44 May 25, 2011 by johnny1939
Would not want anybody but a plastic surgeon do this to me. Have noticed so many botched procedures such as lopsided smiles, starring eyes w/o ability to blink,etc. My dentist told me that he has patients that have trouble opening their mouths wide enough for treatments. Is it really worth it?
12:34 May 25, 2011 by karex
I agree with Nemesis, this is insane.

On the other hand, even the trained specialists routinely get it wrong around here, which makes the above situation all the more disturbing.
13:51 May 25, 2011 by nolikegohome
ofcourse the laws about fillers and botox muxt be revised ASAP

also not to forget anyone in Sweden can open a Laser clinic no need for formal education. could be dangerous and is dangerous.
15:08 May 25, 2011 by Tennin
Really scarey.
15:17 May 25, 2011 by SimonDMontfort
...didn't the Bible once say (from my limited reading of it) 'as ye sow, so shall ye reap'?

I think its absurd that people go to these lengths to get rid of a few wrinkles. Live with yourself as you are!
17:49 May 25, 2011 by Hasham
Well on one hand medically highly qualified doctors from non- EU countries are not allowed to practice medicine without a long , almost impossible licensing procedure and in the same territory non- qualified quacks are performing duties of plastic surgeons! I can't get these double standards! National board of health and welfare needs to review its licensing procedure so that at least the jobs which do not require too much language skills could be offered to medically qualified non-EU doctors rather than risking precious lives in hands of ignorants.
17:52 May 25, 2011 by Horace
Just don't get Botox
19:14 May 25, 2011 by krattan
Lets regulate everything. Come on. I'm sure the state could employ some botox inspectors in Pajala or wherever there is a need for some extra jobs. I'm just happy to pay taxes.
22:00 May 25, 2011 by karex
@Hasham, You have a point there. I have also noticed that the rules seem to be contradictory. I know of at least one case of a highly qualified dentist who more or less had to go to University all over again here to be able to practice.

That the rules are strict I can understand, but if this is the way it is then it should be so for everyone, not just depending on whether their country of origin was inside or outside the EU. They have studied and graduated, so have them take a qualification test to see if they pass, and not do Uni all over again.
08:23 January 19, 2012 by sossjek
As a US cosmetic surgeon practicing in Los Angeles, I am surprised that Botox is not administered by physicians in Sweden, especially that many of the applications of Botox Cosmetic need a thorough and deep understanding of the location of underlying muscles and their functions.
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