Looks to die for: Unmasking Malaysia’s beauty quacks
Malaysia is clamping down on the lucrative but poorly regulated beauty industry and its growing army of fake medical practitioners.
Medical groups and beauticians have welcomed the move to stamp out the quacks, who are exploiting the beauty boom by offering illegal dental and aesthetic procedures and courses.
“Currently, we don’t have a law to regulate the beauty industry when it is growing rapidly, and people are earning handsomely from it,” said Deputy Trade and Consumer Minister Rosol Wahid.
“We are discussing with the MOH [Ministry of Health] to see what procedures the beauty parlours can offer and what they can’t.”
Rosol said non-invasive beauty procedures will fall under the purview of her ministry but added that ascertaining whether a procedure is invasive or not is not easy.
Public concern in Malaysia is growing over the abundance of beauticians offering aesthetic and dental services such as braces and veneer procedures, whitening drip and platelet-rich plasma therapy.
Botched cases have been reported where patients were either scarred for life or even died as a result of the procedures.
Some beauticians also offer short training courses in these procedures.
In July, The Star reported that for RM1,000 to RM3,000 (8,000-24,000 baht), anyone could take a short course in installing braces and veneers and performing whitening procedures, with a certificate and starter kit at the end of the training.
Rosol confirmed action could be taken against those who provide illegal short medical courses as the certificates issued are invalid.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Koh Kar Chai called for a full investigation into fake practitioners.
“The authorities should come down strongly on these [unqualified] practitioners and trainers,” he said.
Koh said once the regulation is in place, the government should also organise public awareness programmes to educate the public, especially in identifying unlicensed or uncertified beauty centres.
Malaysian Dental Association president Dr Lim Chiew Wooi said going after the trainers of illegal practitioners is crucial in stamping out illegal dental practices.
“When unqualified trainers train people, it’s like the blind leading the blind. We should not allow people to provide training that can harm others,” he said.
Malaysian Society of Aesthetic Medicine president Dr Chin Shih Choon agreed with the regulation move.
“Medical procedures can only be done by medical doctors. Unqualified practitioners cannot administer injections, perform thread lifting, laser treatments and other surgeries,” Dr Chin said.
“During the previous engagement between the stakeholders, some of them portrayed lasers as harmless but we told them no, they are dangerous and could harm others.”
Dr Chin said medical aesthetic practitioners took years to earn the licence needed to perform aesthetic procedures.
Only about 300 doctors in the field of aesthetics and beauty treatment are accredited by the Health Ministry.
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