By Dr Michael Molton, President of the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia (CPCA)
The ever-increasing popularity of non-surgical cosmetic enhancement treatments has seen a plethora of clinics popping up, keen to take advantage of the boom. However, while many popular treatments are termed non-surgical, they still remain a cosmetic medical procedure, and therefore still carry an inherent risk of side effects and complications.
So how do you know if you are seeing the right person, getting the right advice, or even getting the real thing to minimise risk yet maximise results? Before jumping the gun, follow these guidelines to ensure you will get the best and safest results that you’re happy with.
Take the time to properly evaluate your motivations for the procedure, as well as to clearly identify area/areas of concern. Outline what expectations you have of the outcome, make sure they are realistic and make sure you are prepared to make any necessary lifestyle changes.
Do your research
Find out background information about cosmetic procedures. Remember, don’t focus on one procedure at the exclusion of others and be wary of the oversell of benefits.
Take online reviews with a pinch of salt as results can be subjective and be cautious about before and after photos as image editing, makeup and lighting can enhance the outcome.
Find a registered, experienced and qualified practitioner
Preferably a doctor who is a member of a reputable organisation – who receives ongoing training, ensuring a high level of skill.
Find out what experience they have, how long they have been doing this for and do they have the knowledge and skills to firstly prevent or secondly manage any complications.
Be careful as there are many unregistered, unqualified practitioners out there and a lack of adequate experience and knowledge can have dire consequences.
Ensure a face-to-face consult
When you have the initial consultation, make sure that it is face to face with the treating doctor. It’s important to have an in-depth consultation and establish a good rapport.
Know what it is that concerns you but be aware that there are a range of treatments, ranging from injectables to chemical peels, through to lasers and light therapy, so stay open to options, as your doctor will recommend the best treatment plan for you.
Make sure the recommended procedure has been explained clearly and in detail along with what results you can expect. Remember to also address any potential side effects and complications that could arise. Ask and if you don’t understand, ask again.
Ensure the quality of injectables and equipment
If having injectables, it’s important to note that they are prescription-only products so can only be prescribed by a doctor. Discuss which brand of product is being used and ensure it is an Australian distributed product, approved by the TGA.
There has been an influx of illegally imported injectables into Australia, and these carry a much higher risk of serious and permanent injury.
The same applies to lasers; if they are not listed with the TGA then they are not registered in Australia and the potential consequences may include serious burns to the skin.
Make sure you’re aware of the impacts of the procedure on your lifestyle
Discuss what impact the procedure will have on your lifestyle and assess if you can manage it. Is there downtime with the procedure and will you need to take time off work? How much downtime should you expect?
A good tip is to clear your social /meetings calendar for up to one week after. Also clarify what will be the post-treatment follow-up/home care plan with your doctor.
Some treatments may require a course so you may need to allow for multiple treatment sessions.
Be realistic about cost
Importantly, find out the total cost (for the procedure and any after care) and assess if you can afford it financially.
Avoid the health practitioners (and they are out there) who implement high-pressure sales techniques, cut-price offers, pay-later schemes and who may use altered imagery to promote their services.
There’s no need to rush
Lastly, remember all cosmetic procedures are discretionary. There is no rush to make a decision and if anything, allow yourself an adequate cooling-off period to ensure that your decision is well considered taking into account realistic expectations and any associated risk. You may even want a second opinion. Just remember, it’s your choice.