New TGA Rules and how they affect our Clinic

& How They Affect Our Clinic


Our industry has been reeling in shock over the TGA’s recent banning of the words “anti-wrinkle” and “dermal filler” in clinic advertising. These new rules have come fast on the heels of other regulations introduced for cosmetic surgical procedures and have raised questions about what will come next.

As someone who has had over 35 years working in the health sector, 17 of those at the forefront of the Aesthetics Industry, has a specialist MBA in Health Service Management, the experience in owning and running health businesses ranging from General Practice, Surgical units, Pharmacy, Aesthetics, and many community services, as well as working alongside health policymakers in the UK, and formerly having a business partner who was both a barrister and a doctor, you can imagine I had a fair bit to say on the proposed changes....

There are many issues at play here including:

  • What do the changes mean for clients?;
  • Will clinics and practitioners continue to have viable businesses if they can’t advertise
  • What’s next – will other services be banned from advertising too?


Specifically they relate to treatments involving prescription medications (Cosmetic Injectables) and mean that we are now prohibited from:

1. Using before and after photos

2. Using testimonials

3. Advertising pricing

4. Using the words anti-wrinkle and dermal fillers

5. Placing educational materials and information on our websites


  • We must remove our social media history on these treatments
  • Change our websites
  • Edit any print materials and magazine artwork.


The consensus amongst the industry professionals is that these moves will take the cornerstone ethics of healthcare (patient education and informed consent) backward. In fact AHPRA who goven the health care practitioners have issued guidance that conflicts with the TGA too.

Australia has always had the aesthetics industry on a tight leash – we have never been allowed to use drug names, are unable to ask for and use testimonials for doctors and nurses, and have strong guidance on the use of “before” and “after” photos (which until now have been permitted).

All of these rules were important, but it should also be noted that they were all in place long before the surge of social media platforms. It is now widely accepted that some of these are impossible to control or police. Times change and the regulations need to change with them.

For example, the multitude of review platforms now in use means that consumers of our services are just as likely to leave reviews (good and bad) in places that we (the business) may not even know exist. While we can, of course, respond to any review we are unable to take it down if we dont like it so we should we be held responsible if that review breaches the TGA rules. 

Conversely, I believe that reviews keep businesses transparent; they ensure good service (because no one wants a bad one), and any business receiving unsatisfactory reviews will either be starved of customers or be forced clean up their act to get new ones. In fact, I believe reviews are a better policing mechanism than the limited resources of the TGA or APHRA.

The idea of not being able to talk about the services we deliver in any terms that clients recognise, on our websites, social media, print press or online directories is simply ludicrous. We should be challenging the authority of any government body to prevent us from using our normal English language. After all, “Anti-Wrinkle” and “dermal fillers” are actions of the treatment, not drug names - just like "pain killer" and "antibiotic" .

If we are not allowed to advertise our services at all, (which appears to be the purpose of the new regulations) and if we are not allowed to refer to well recognised terms such as anti-wrinkle, dermal fillers, which clients commonly use, then several things will result:

1. Clients will still search the terms they know. Instead of finding credible Australian company sites, they will find overseas information that will most likely not be referring to the products we use here (because there are hundreds of brands worldwide that we don’t have in Australia) and which may provide advice that is not relevant.

2. The overseas sites may be in countries that are not regulated at all and may not give truthful or accurate advice. They may even use doctored images. In fact, on more than one occasion I have found my own website photos on overseas websites claiming the work to be theirs. Moreover, there will be no accountability or right of recourse.

3. Clients will have reduced access to credible and relevant, pre-education from Australian clinics before they attend the consultation. I am 100% for client education and informed consent and this needs to start at the exploratory stages. The TGA seems to be oblivious of the importance of this currently available education stage which not only screens out those people who are put off by the information that they read but informs potential clients of questions that they should be asking at the consultation.

4. Lack of prior reading and knowledge for clients may also mean they are at a greater risk of making an on-the-spot decision at the consultation.

5. A consultation with a potential patient who has had no prior opportunity to learn about specific treatments that the practitioner offers will place more pressure on both parties. It may also waste everyone's time if the client is looking for some other completely different treatment not offered at that location.


1. Do you feel the TGA biased against an industry that does much to improve the self-image and self-confidence of its clients?

2. The TGA claims the new regulations are protecting the public - but from what? From "awareness" of the treatments, we offer? If so, are they going to be given additional powers to ban magazine articles, TV and newspaper reporting, and Celebrities from talking about these treatments too? All of which probably have more influence than I could possibly have!

3. Have the TGA/APHRA over-stepped the mark in prohibiting words that are not drug names but simple English Language. Is it legal for the TGA to ban “smooth foreheads” “kissable lips” and all the general describing words we use in the beauty industry as a whole?

4. The medical-aesthetic industry is now a mature one that employs tens of thousands of people. The TGA is threatening the livelihood not only of Cosmetic Injectors but also clinic owners, therapists, and other practitioners who work alongside injectors and together form the interconnected viability of these businesses.

5. Many clinics have been trading for over 20 years (my own clinic has been trading 27 years) which amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment in websites, SEO, social media, magazines, directories etc - all of which were deemed legal, approved and “policed” in the interest of patient safety and education. Is it fair that we we are being instructed to delete all this without compensation? Are the TGA and APHRA now claiming they had this wrong all that time? 

6. The TGA and APHRA are enthusiastic to quote the rare incidents of Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) as being problematic. However, the prevalence of this is around 2.4% in the population. That 2.4 % is almost equally split between men and women (2.2% v 2.5%) and covers all forms of body dysmorphia. If BDD was the driver of our businesses (which it is not!) then all clinics would see an equal split of men and women yet the majority between see less than 15% men. .

7. What about the other "missing" body dysmorphic men who are not in cosmetic clinics? Where are they? Are they in the tattoo studios? the gym? the piercing shop? So, who is policing those?

8. Is there a gender bias here? The above indicates that women are being considered so stupid and so incapable of making wise choices that choice must be removed from them but allowed for men? It seems then that the TGA and APHRA are penalizing women for wanting to feel attractive and to preserve their looks longer.

9. Are we turning into a nanny state? Have we lost the right to choose what we want for our own bodies?

10 The Plastic Surgeons now must submit women seeking cosmetic surgery for a psychiatric evaluation first. I would find this a demeaning process. Are the TGA/APHRA saying that the 97.5% of women who don’t have BDD have to justify their request just so that maybe the other 2.5% will be filtered out? If so, having worked alongside cosmetic surgery services I can speak with some authority when I tell you that it’s relatively easy to spot the BDD client at consultation and steer them away from surgery using several methods of making the surgery unattainable without needing to put the rest of the patients through a psychiatric evaluation.

11. Are the TGA/APRAH naive enough to believe that the BDD patient will just walk away and say, “ok I'll not do it then”? Far from it - inevitably, they go from doctor to doctor till they perfect their story, hide their disorder, or simply go overseas for surgery.

In summary, the new guidelines will mean that patients will have;

LESS certainty of the treatments available prior to attending the clinic

LESS information about the risks, benefits and potential outcomes before attending the clinic

LESS prior knowledge about treatments before they attend a clinic and therefore less choice of treatments and less opportunity to prepare questions

INCREASED likelihood of exposure to overseas information that will not be relevant and could be misleading.

INCREASED exposure and reliance on unregulated information from overseas websites

INCREASED exposure to unregulated before and after photos from overseas 

This is blog represents my thoughts as a clinic owner and client. You will likely have more thoughts and it's important to voice them.  Feel free to comment below or look me up on LinkedIn and comment there... 

Have Your Say!

This blog represents my thoughts as a clinic owner and client. You will likely have more thoughts and it's important to voice them.  Feel free to comment below or look me up on LinkedIn and comment there... 


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