It seems that it is all too often that we see newspaper headlines about adverse effects of aesthetic treatments performed by ‘physicians’ wrongly claiming to be aesthetic practitioners. And this isn’t just a UK or European problem, but something that seems to happen on a worldwide scale.
In the UK we are currently reading stories about a ‘fake plastic surgeon’ who gave cash-in-hand botulinum toxin treatments in his patients’ kitchens, while in the US, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgey (ASAPS) has advised consumers to avoid unqualified personnel performing cosmetic procedures, following the arrest of a mother and her daughters for giving illegal botulinum toxin injections without a medical licence.
I have written in previous editorials how shocking it is that such examples of poor practice and indeed, fraud, are still ongoing. At the time of writing, we are awaiting further discussion on the outcomes of the recent CEN meeting on the European Aesthetic Standards in Vienna, but we shouldn’t be waiting for regulation to maintain and promote best practice.
Perhaps with regard to avoiding the fradulent and harmful behaviour of the few, patient education is key. Patients must be given the tools to make informed decisions about their treatment and know that they are in the correct hands — a truly qualified aesthetic practitioner would not be ashamed to share evidence of their medical background and training.
We must also reiterate to the public that a 3-month training course does not an aesthetic practitioner make; it takes years of dedication and hard work to qualify as an expert doctor, nurse or surgeon, who can ensure that their patients are being treated with a safe and skilled pair of hands.
It is imperative, too, that we discuss with our patients where they can get further support if we are unable to offer this ourselves, be it psychological counselling, further treatment information, or patient support groups.
As a whole, we have a duty to continue raising the bar of the industry and remain above disrepute, in order to reduce the examples of poor treatment outcomes and fraudulent claims such as those mentioned above. And while regulation is essential for the future of the industry, we shouldn’t be waiting for the decision of law-makers to ensure that our own high standards are in place.