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"Navigating Aesthetics: Choosing a Practitioner"

Introduction:

 

The demand for aesthetic procedures continues to soar, and whether it's rejuvenating your skin, enhancing your features, or wanting to freshen up your look, choosing the right practitioner is crucial for achieving the desired results, safely.

In the UK, aesthetic procedures are offered by a number of different types of practitioners. This guide will explore the key factors to consider when choosing an aesthetic practitioner and delve into why opting for a qualified prescriber (e.g. a doctor) is the wisest and safest choice.

 

The UK Aesthetic Landscape:

 

The situation in the UK is actually frightening because literally anyone can start offering aesthetic treatments and there is nothing under UK law that prevents them from doing so, nor is there any minimum required training!

Despite the potential for catastrophic side effects (such as arterial occlusion and subsequent tissue death as is happening increasingly in the lips, the chance of permanent facial scarring from tissue death, and, rarely, the occurrence of life-threatening anaphylaxis) literally anyone in the UK can offer these procedures and claim to be an ‘aesthetician‘! 

Furthermore, there is no professional body overseeing ‘aestheticians’ and so  there is no-one who checks their credentials, holds them to account, and to whom you can complain in the event of poor practice or negligence!  NO-ONE. Be warned!

 

It is imperative therefore to select a truly qualified practitioner working under the auspices of a professional regulatory body (e.g. the General Medical Council).

 

In particular with regards to Botox™, this and all of the other botulinum, toxin brands are prescription-only medicines in the UK so there are no circumstances under which you should be receiving treatments with these without direct face-to-face input from a prescriber e.g. a doctor.  It is illegal in the UK to perform these particular treatments otherwise. 

 

My own maxim – if the person treating you can prescribe for and treat any complications that arise, you are more likely to be in safe hands.  So as a minimum they should be a prescriber.  That means a doctor, and nurse prescribers and dentists are prescribers too.  But of course, there is more to being a safe and good practitioner than simply being a prescriber.

 

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Aesthetic Practitioner:

 

 

 

1. Qualifications and Training:

The cornerstone of any reputable aesthetic practitioner's profile is their qualifications and training. It’s crucial to verify their credentials, ensuring they have received adequate training and have professional registration (e.g. General Medical Council) and affiliations with recognised institutions/professional bodies such as the British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM).  The latter generally confers some experience within aesthetics, and practitioner experience is next on the list!

 

2. Experience

There is no substitute for experience.  If your practitioner has been performing Aesthetics since 2004 (as is the case with me, Dr Ben Coyle) the chances are they have seen it, trained others in it, and seen it/dealt with it when it goes wrong.  Dr Ben has performed thousands of treatments over 20 years and there is simply no substitute for that.   Ultimately, it is your face – how much experience do you want your practitioner to have?

 

3. Price

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.  A doctor will have a wealth of experience and good knowledge of anatomy and the ability to treat complications.  They have years of (very expensive) training.  They will also have hefty professional insurance (thousands of pounds a year) as they are held to the highest standards professionally and are required to have solid indemnity insurance.  If you are guided by price alone you will likely find yourself in the hands of someone who pays around £50/year for ‘beautician insurance’ and has attended a half day’s course in the treatments they profess to be experts at (if indeed that much training).

 

4. Standards

It should be clear that your practitioner operates from professional premises, adheres to strict safety protocols, has emergency drugs and equipment to hand (and is qualified to use them) and they should engender a sense of trust in all aspects – including of their ability to safely do what they are proposing.

 

5. Managing Complications

In trained experienced hands, serious complications do happen but they are rare.  When they do a doctor will manage these for you.  Currently, there are far too many complications happening in the UK due to procedures being done by poorly qualified people.  A recent investigation by Save Face found in cases of serious complaints ‘100% arose from non-healthcare practitioners, 98% were misdiagnosed as swelling or bruising, and 82% of patients were blocked or ignored by the practitioner after complaining.’*

*Non-surgical BBL &Breast Augmentation Complaints and Complications Report, Dec 2023, Save Face

 

6. Ethical Practices

Aesthetic practitioners should adhere to ethical standards and prioritize patient well-being over financial gains. If a practitioner pressures you into a procedure, promotes unrealistic expectations, or offers excessive discounts, it may be a red flag. In the UK it is illegal to advertise ‘Botox’, ‘Anti-wrinkle treatment’ or similar, and it is illegal to discount prescription – medicine treatments (Botox™ and the other brands are prescription-only medicines).

 

7. Patient vs Consumer based

Doctors are trained to see you as a patient and to perform an holistic approach, including psychological aspects, your emotional state, beliefs, and expectations, and are trained consulters honing these skills over many years.  You are far less likely to be a ‘consumer’ than a patient to a doctor.  Those who do not have healthcare backgrounds do this for income with none of the above training/experience in consulting and holistic care.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Choosing who to see for your treatment is a decision that should not be taken lightly. The key to a successful and satisfying aesthetic experience lies in careful research, thorough consultations, and a focus on safety and professionalism. While unqualified ‘aestheticians’ offer these services in the UK, selecting a qualified doctor brings the assurance of medical expertise, a commitment to patient safety, and an holistic approach to your aesthetic journey. By prioritising these factors, you empower yourself to make informed decisions that align with your goals, ultimately enhancing both your appearance and well-being.

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