Health Minister Pushes for Swift Regulations of Cosmetic Fillers

The Minister of Health, Willum Þór Þórsson, is pushing for regulations on the use of fillers in Iceland following concerns raised by the news programme Kompás. While the exact timeline remains uncertain, the Minister aims to have the regulations established this year, Vísir reports.

Hopes to implement regulations this year

The Minister of Health, Willum Þór Þórsson, is taking steps to implement regulations on the use of fillers in Iceland, aiming for clear restrictions by this year. This move comes after the investigative news programme Kompás highlighted the risks associated with the current lack of regulations on who can administer fillers.

As noted by Vísir, doctors have long advocated for such regulations, but their calls have gone unanswered. Yesterday, Minister Þórsson acknowledged the urgency, stating, “I have instructed the ministry to promptly utilise the regulatory authority found in the Medical Devices Act, alongside looking into the Health Professionals Act. The Directorate of Health would then oversee this, determining who is authorised to use these substances and ensuring they have the necessary expertise. That’s what’s missing.”

“Simultaneously,” the Minister added, “I’ve requested that we look at comprehensive legislation, similar to Sweden’s approach, though it might take longer.”

When asked about the specifics, the Minister couldn’t provide an exact date but emphasised the need for swift action. He hopes the regulations will be in place this year.

Welfare Committee Chair Calls for Regulation of Cosmetic Fillers

Injectables

The Chairperson of the Parliament’s Welfare Committee has formally inquired with Health Minister, Willum Þór Þórsson, about his plans to regulate the use of fillers and substances that dissolve them. Her concerns were prompted by an investigative report aired on Kompás this past Monday.

The “Wild West” of fillers

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, Chair of the Parliament’s Welfare Committee, expressed her concerns about the use of fillers, a topic recently highlighted by the investigative news programme Kompás. The programme described the unregulated use of fillers as the “Wild West,” interviewing an Icelandic woman who suffered life-threatening complications from a misinformed treatment.

As noted by Kompás, in Iceland, substances are being used illicitly for cosmetic procedures, and there’s no oversight of unqualified individuals who often operate under misleading job titles.

“Even though one might have noticed on the streets, young girls with rather broad and large lips, knowing that substances were obviously being injected, the extent of this ‘Wild West’ situation was surprising,” Bjarkey commented.

Seeking clarity on potential regulations

Bjarkey also revealed to Vísir that she has reached out to Health Minister, Willum Þór Þórsson, seeking clarity on potential regulations for these substances: “I’m keen to understand the oversight in terms of use and importation. It’s unclear if these substances can be sourced from foreign online platforms. I’m also wondering if the Director of Health has mechanisms to track this and if there are records of medical interventions related to these substances. This is a grave concern, and I believe we must act,” she stated.

Bjarkey hopes that the discussion won’t fade in the coming days now that it has started.

What are fillers?

As noted by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, dermal fillers are “gel-like substances that are injected beneath the skin to restore lost volume, smooth lines and soften creases, or enhance facial contours.”

Fillers, especially those made of hyaluronic acid (a naturally occurring substance in the body), can be dissolved using an enzyme called hyaluronidase.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the potential dangers of fillers include acne-like skin eruptions, asymmetry in the treated areas, bleeding from the injection site, bruising, damage to the skin leading to wounds and possible scarring, infection at the injection site, formation of lumps, the filler being felt under the skin, skin necrosis which involves ulceration or loss of skin due to disrupted blood flow, itchy skin rashes, skin redness, swelling, and the under- or over-correction of wrinkles.

“In very rare cases, the filler may accidentally be injected into your blood vessels instead of under your skin. This can block blood flow. What happens if your blood flow is blocked will vary depending on where the block is. If your skin is affected, you might have skin loss or wounds. If your eye is affected, you might lose your eyesight or go blind.”