It suddenly dawned on me recently that the aesthetic industry in the UK has split in two.
According to our local Allergan representative, an expert on the botox and dermal filler industry in the North West region, there are 2,500 providers of botox and dermal fillers in the North West of England.
From seeing and treating thousands of patients, training nurses and doctors, and talking to the handful of doctors and nurses who work full time as I do in aesthetics, it’s become clear that there is a stark difference in aesthetic practitioners, and they fall into two main camps.
There are those that see their role as to remove wrinkles, as a low stress, well paid, low effort alternative supplement to their stressful NHS job, and those who understand that aesthetics is a specialty of its own, who continue their development and want to know more the more they learn about anatomy, medical complications and risks, and the scientific basis of beauty.
I’ve been heartened by the fantastic response to the serious side of aesthetics (particularly complication management) of the delegates who have attended our introductory course at SkinViva Training.
This fantastic response, and continued commitment to learn demonstrated through the SkinViva trainee network has lead me to conclude that this isn’t simply an attitude problem with a few people who go into aesthetics, but more a problem with training, not just in content, but in the values promoted during training.
If your first introduction to Aesthetics teaches you that all we are doing is ‘an injection’ – something all health professionals do not see as remotely challenging, and all it amounts to is freezing muscles and polyfiller for the wrinkles (a sound bite from my first course in 2007), it’s no surprise that there are so many bad results and complications and no surprise either that the industry is coming under scrutiny.
I would call on training schools to not only include aspects on safety in their course, but to integrate and prioritise it, and formally provide backup for their trainees once the course is completed for when complications do occur.
I would also call on training schools to hammer home that the removal of lines and wrinkles is not the only goal. An aesthetically pleasing result must respect the laws of beauty- natural contours and proportions must be taught over and above wrinkle removal, and safety must be taught over and above aesthetics.
This is the only way that the aesthetics industry will get the full respect it deserves, rather than being seen as a way purely to earn a fast buck on the side, a skilled scientific and artistic discipline that can only be safely provided by specially trained doctors and nurses.
The current split in in approach is actually bad for everyone involved, but most importantly it is bad for the British public who have no way of knowing that their practitioner is safe, equipped to deal with problems, and skilled enough to actually create an aesthetically pleasing result.
by Dr Tim Pearce, MBChB BSc (hons) MRCGP