The public are being asked whether they think new legal controls are needed on body piercings and other non-surgical cosmetic treatments.

Scottish ministers believe there is a growing potential risk posed by an increase in unregulated premises such as beauty or hairdressing salons carrying out such procedures. Anecdotal evidence also suggests an increase in such procedures going wrong, causing discomfort, harm, or permanent damage in severe cases.

Cosmetic procedures that pierce or penetrate the skin, such as lip enhancements, dermal fillers or wrinkle smoothers, are growing in popularity across the country, but are not currently regulated and anyone is able to offer them. A number of pharmacists have now entered the cosmetics procedure field and are providing injectable procedures in premises that are currently not regulated by, and do not need to be registered with, Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS). HIS regulates independent clinics run by a doctor, nurse, dentist, dental nurse, midwife or dental care professional who provides these procedures.


The Scottish Government wants to ensure that anyone providing non-surgical cosmetic procedures that pierce or penetrate the skin is competent and appropriately trained to do so, from hygienic premises that are fit for purpose. A consultation has therefore been launched on the need for further statutory regulation to ensure the safety of people considering or undergoing these procedures.

An expert group recommended in 2015 that piercing or penetrating procedures should only be provided by or on behalf of regulated healthcare professionals by individuals who have an appropriate level of expertise. Ministers say they are "not averse" to this in principle, but there is currently a lack of evidence of harm from all activities and "we do not want to cause undue financial difficulties for reputable small businesses, if this can be avoided by the introduction of other appropriate regulation". They recognise that a blanket ban on other providers could be difficult to enforce and might drive unregulated providers underground.

"We therefore offer, in this consultation, a way forward that ensures the visibility of all services and licensing backed with rigorous implementation guides (specific conditions) to ensure best practice in all circumstances."


The paper proposes that procedures carried out by individuals who are not qualified healthcare professionals would be brought under the licensing regime in the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, while pharmacists who operate independent healthcare practices outwith the terms of an NHS contract would be regulated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Click here to access the consultation. The closing date for responses is 30 April 2020.