TV Series Review #3: Under the Skin - The Botched Beauty Business (single episode)

A brief overview of the Under the Skin episode 'The Botched Beauty Business', how it relates to Medicine, and my opinions of it!

February 2022
Iqra Ali

Summary

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Beauty influencer and makeup artist Anchal Seda hosts this very insightful documentary to uncover the reality behind unregulated training courses in the aesthetics industry. She meets people who have been exploited based on their naivety and urge to look ‘good’.

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Currently, anyone can become trained to practice aesthetics which has resulted in many clients with both severe and long-term injuries. Cosmetic doctors, on the other hand, have qualified with a medical degree and have greater scientific knowledge and understanding of the body. This is necessary to perform aesthetic treatments safely and effectively.

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In this BBC documentary, Anchal goes undercover to investigate unregulated training, before confronting these companies and practitioners about the business they are involved in, including the types of procedures they offer and the risks they are subjecting patients to.

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Key Insights

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1. The reasoning behind cosmetic treatments

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‍Many people feel that they need cosmetic surgery to fit into the societal norms of how one should look, for self-esteem purposes to feel good or, in some countries amongst some demographics, it can be likened to retail therapy. These motives are manipulated by some practitioners which will be discussed later.

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2. Vulnerability to exploitation

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‍Many untrained practitioners perform cosmetic procedures on vulnerable people for money and fame. Individuals are exploited based on their lack of knowledge surrounding procedures and awareness of the importance of safety, their desire to feel confident in their looks, and also the amount of money they are willing to spend on the procedure (typically these untrained practitioners offer procedures at a lower cost).

This has led to severe incidents where medical interventions have been required, including a case where a client almost lost their sight. As a result, there have been increasing efforts to raise awareness of this issue. Government recognition is necessary so that relevant legislations to regulate the industry are implemented and the consequences of this problem are minimised. This could include legal requirements for those who can train to practice aesthetics i.e. they must have completed formally recognised medical training and/or obtain a license to practice.

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3. Importance of research

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When wishing to undergo aesthetic procedures, it is important to check that someone has had the proper training that is required to safely conduct them (and they haven’t just stamped a certificate from an online course under their name!). Individuals that have completed a medical degree at university, and therefore are qualified doctors, before specialising in cosmetic and aesthetic training are those you can trust. In the documentary, Dr Nyla Raja reinforces this when she states that you could never condense 10 years worth of medical training into a 2-day course.

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4. The importance of medical ethics

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‍Practitioners must consider the pillars of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice whenever they are treating clients. Whether registered with the GMC or not, practitioners have a moral obligation to treat people fairly and in an ethical manner. However, it is clear from the many of the accidents that have occurred to people undergoing these treatments, that these moral values have been disregarded.

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How does this relate to medicine?

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Doctors have a duty of care to their patients and must consider the four pillars of medical ethics to optimise this. As this example demonstrates, failure to do so can lead to negative consequences.

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In addition to this, when these procedures do not go as planned, owing to the fact they were not carried out by a properly qualified individual, the patient is likely to end up in the hands of a doctor. These situations can be traumatising for patients and therefore it is important to have a holistic approach, considering the physical and psychological challenges the patient may be facing.

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Lastly, this may be an area you wish to specialise in if you are planning on becoming a doctor someday! Before beginning to study Medicine, many students are unaware of the vast array of potential career pathways. Many doctors choose to specialise in cosmetics after completion of their degree and will predominantly practice privately. In the UK, only those with a licence to practice are legally able to treat patients with surgical cosmetic procedures.

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Rating: 10/10

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I really enjoyed this documentary as it gave me a real insight into the lack of regulations. This surprised me as I had always assumed the government had rigorous regulations in place! It also really opened my eyes to the extent of the issue. More action must be taken: the awareness raised in this documentary is one step in the right direction. This documentary also highlighted the diversity of medicine to me, showing the variety of fields you can specialise in, as well as the different ways medicine is taught.

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This documentary is still available on BBC iPlayer for another 4 months (until June 2022).

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Author: Iqra Ali

Editor: Allegra Wisking

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