This ruling forms part of a wider piece of work on sclerotherapy treatments, identified for investigation following intelligence gathered by the ASA. See also related rulings published on 26 April 2023.
A post on the Facebook page for the beauty salon Victoria Anne Beauty, posted on 8 October 2022, advertising sclerotherapy, a procedure for the treatment of thread veins. Text stated “Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the vein. The sclerotherapy solution causes the vein to scar, forcing blood to reroute through healthier veins. The collapsed vein is reabsorbed into local tissue and eventually fades.” An accompanying photo showed “before and after” images of a person who had undergone the procedure.
The ASA challenged whether the ad breached the Code because it advertised a prescription-only medicine (POM) to the public.
Victoria Anne Beauty said that the ad had been posted to their Facebook page by an independent practitioner of sclerotherapy, who was not employed by their organisation, but had trialled running sessions from a room in their salon.
Victoria Anne Beauty said that they had made no financial gain from the arrangement, which had proved unsuccessful and no longer ran at their salon, and that they did not offer sclerotherapy treatments themselves.
The CAP Code stated that prescription-only medicines or prescription-only medical treatments may not be advertised to the public.
We acknowledged that the ad referred to services offered by an independent practitioner in the advertiser’s premises. However, the ad had been posted by the Victoria Anne Beauty Facebook account, and they were ultimately responsible for the content of ads that were posted by their account.
The ad would have been visible to anyone visiting Victoria Anne Beauty’s Facebook page, and promoted sclerotherapy treatments. It stated that sclerotherapy involved injecting a solution directly into the vein and contained a “before and after” image of a person who had undergone sclerotherapy treatment, as well as a price for the treatment. The ASA understood that sclerotherapy treatments required the use of a POM, and we therefore concluded that the ad promoted a POM to the general public.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 12.12 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Victoria Anne Beauty not to promote prescription-only medicines (POMs) to the general public in future marketing materials.