The high street giant has responded to criticism of its Skin Renew service and its impact on those suffering with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, by rolling out this new step

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If you’re looking for a beauty bargain , Superdrug has established itself as one of the key players on the high street to find one. But should Botox  be one of them? It’s the question that’s been buzzing around the internet since the high street retailer announced last year that it would be offering the procedure alongside Juvéderm dermal fillers from as little as £99.

Called its Skin Renew Service, it's only available for those aged 25 years and over at its flagship store on The Strand, London. It was launched in response to feedback from nearly 10,000 customers that revealed a demand for the injectables and coincides with the recent surge in ‘Love Island-inspired’ enhancements seen in 18 to 25-year-olds. Superdrug was one of the show’s sponsors last year (as it was the two years before) however, unlike its themed skin and makeup gifting ranges to capitalise on the show’s success, this latest TV coupling serves as a much more controversial step for helping fans achieve the villa look.

It's most recently come under fire from the NHS, which has expressed concerns about its impact on people who have mental illnesses such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a condition where people are fixated on what they think are flaws. Professor Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England personally wrote to Superdrug's chief executive, calling on the company to do more to protect people who are seeking treatment because they are mentally unwell, or have a condition that could be triggered as a result of having it. This has led to the company saying that it will now incorporate specific questions about Body Dysmorphic Disorder into their hour-long consultation, which already includes a mental health assessment: "We remain fully committed to including recommended protections for mental health. We met with the NHS to ensure we have the highest safety standards and quality of patient care."

What happens when you book in

Trained nurses will administer the procedures and conduct the consultations, a step taken by the company to provide consumers with greater peace of mind that they’re in safe hands (53 per cent of those surveyed cited that this was the most important factor when it came to having aesthetic procedures).

Award-winning cosmetic doctor, Dr Tijion Esho  of the Esho Clinic on Harley Street tells us: “Nurses are a very highly qualified and skilled group of medical professionals and there are many clinics in the UK and abroad already that are led by nurses as well as doctors.”

Consultations will be able to be booked by phoning Superdrug’s customer service team who have been trained to help people decide if a consultation is right for them or not. If a patient decides to go ahead, they’ll complete a medical questionnaire when they come in to assess their eligibility and the nurse will provide their clinical and professional opinion about the treatment.

What you should bear in mind before booking in

With a standard forehead of crow’s feet Botox treatment coming in at £99, (compared to around £300 at Harley Street clinics), the service makes the procedures more accessible to a whole new audience. That’s arguably a good thing, but according to Dr Esho, quality and continuity of care will always override low cost and should be key factors in your decision-making process when faced with cut-price options:

“For it to be successful, it will need to be truly medical and have a stable long-standing team of experts delivering a high standard of treatments within a clinical setting. Clients in today’s market have high expectations and always value quality and continuity of care over low price and treatments by staff they are unable to form a relationship with long-term.”

Does he feel that there are any red flags in this instance? Not currently. “I think sometimes we can be too quick to assume but as professionals, we should base any judgement and evaluation on evidence and fact.”

The majority of concerns expressed elsewhere seem to be about whether the increased visibility of aesthetic procedures on the high street will diminish how seriously they’re taken. As consultant plastic surgeon Rajiv Grover, a British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons council member, told the Evening Standard : “Just because Botox is being done on the high street, the public should not think it is like a beauty treatment. It is still a medical treatment with benefits and also significant risks, and people should be aware of that.”

Botched Botox can result in infection and even paralysis. As for improperly injected fillers, corrective treatment may be needed to remedy any serious problems. As consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto highlights in her book, The Skincare Bible :

“There are potential side-effects with Botox and it is important to go to an experienced practitioner who is able to show you before-and-after photographs.”

Final thoughts

It seems that Superdrug has taken steps to address the safety concerns of its consumers. However, a big question arises about the effect the service will have on public perceptions regarding the seriousness of these types of aesthetic procedures. The high street giant prides itself on offering everything from threading to nail bars and piercing, and as a result, there’s a danger of Botox and fillers being treated as casually - despite the huge variation in risks involved.

Whether you’re looking to book in at Superdrug or anywhere else for Botox or fillers, Dr Esho recommends the following for ensuring that you’re in expert hands:

1. Book in with a registered medical professional such as a doctor, dentist or nurse;

2. Ask the following: How long have you been doing injectables? Can you manage complications independently? Have you got examples of your work? Will I have the same person for the following up of my treatments? What products are you going to use and why?

3. Check that they have the correct insurance;

4. Review their work and experience in the field of aesthetics;

5. Check that they are able to manage complications independently;

6. Ensure that it is conducted within a clinical setting and there is an aftercare and follow-up pathway as part of the treatment.

Read more: Beauty and Botox - your top 10 ageing and skincare questions answered

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