There has been a great deal of media coverage recently regarding the apparent risks associated with cosmetic procedures. Channel 7’s latest short report focussed on how lax regulations in the industry are putting some patients in danger.
However it’s important to discern the difference between the risk associated with unqualified or under-qualified practitioners delivering a procedure, and the risk associated with a procedure itself.
The speed and competence of experienced practitioners combined with the rise in popularity of cosmetic injections has led to a perception that they are simple beauty treatments, however as noted in Channel 7’s report by Dr John Flynn of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery “this is not beauty therapy, these are medical treatments.”
Any medical procedure carries risk, experienced qualified practitioners acknowledge this, they go to extremes to minimise it, manage it and plan for it. Under these circumstances risk is mitigated to such a low level a procedure can be deemed safe.
Unfortunately not all practitioners adhere to these standards, this is when risk can increase to a level considered dangerous to patients.
But how can the average patient distinguish a good provider from a bad one? Contrary to the suggestion made in Channel 7’s report it is not a lottery! There are many things you can do to equip yourself to make a good decision.
At Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia we fully support the push for a nationally accredited way for people to ensure they’re in safe hands, the current system can be confusing and opaque. However if you do your homework, you can find a safe and reputable clinic.
To assist we’ve compiled a list of things to look into before getting an injectable treatment, and the tools for looking into them.
- How thorough is your first consultation?
Australian regulations require your first consultation to be with a doctor. A qualified registered nurse can provide the injections, but a doctor must consult you before your first treatment. This is because anti-wrinkle products and dermal fillers are classified as prescription medicines, so only a doctor can legally prescribe them.
To expedite this process many clinics conduct a quick session over Skype. We recommend that you stay far away from practitioners who do this routinely. You need to be assessed in person by a doctor to determine if you’re suitable for treatment.
You should also discuss what you hope to achieve from your treatment so that your doctor can set a realistic expectation for you. Robyn Cussell, the Principal Nurse at Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia with over 23 years experience in cosmetic medicine said that she will recommend alternative treatments, such as non-invasive ultrasound, to patients who are not good candidates for injectables. “Client safety and realistic results are really at the forefront of what we do,” she added.
- How qualified is your practitioner?
How do you know you’re going to a qualified practitioner when there isn’t a national accrediting framework?
The first step is to check the APHRA website to confirm that your doctor is registered and see if there are any conditions or reprimands against the doctor. As a helpful tip, the search function works better if you search by last name only.
In addition to checking the APHRA website, you should ask your doctor during your consultation about their training and experience.
The companies who produce dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle products do some very good introductory training, but your provider should do more. “It’s one thing to learn the basics, but it takes a lot of understanding and practice to become experienced,” says Nurse Robyn Cussell, “We employ doctors and nurses who are already experienced [with injectable treatments], but before we let them treat patients, they spend a lot of time shadowing our doctors, and they participate in numerous training sessions.”
All of our doctors and nurses, whether veteran or new, participate in regular workshops with visiting doctors and company representatives to update their techniques and maintain their understanding.
It’s always ok to ask your provider in consultation what sort of training they have.
- Which brand does your doctor recommend and why?
There are three major brands of anti-wrinkle injectable products, and a number of dermal filler brands. We aren’t allowed to publish brand names online due to TGA restrictions, but you can ask your doctor for the brand names in your consultation.
If you search Google for the brand name and include the term “TGA,” the TGA web page should come up with all of the information that you need to know, including whether it’s approved for use in Australia.
Asking about the brands can safeguard you from receiving risky imitation products. This information can also help you to make an informed decision about what might work best for you.
- Do you have time to consider your decision?
The TGA recommends that you only go to clinics where they offer you time to think about your decision before going ahead with an injectable treatment.
At Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia we offer free consultations with no obligations, and we’ll email you a summary of everything discussed in consultation, so that you can make a well-informed, carefully-considered decision. Cosmetic injections are a medical procedure, so you need to consider them as one. Be wary of any clinic that pressures you to make a decision on the spot.
- Are there any risks?
Every medication, from Aspirin to Xanax, has the potential for side effects. Your doctor should discuss the potential risks and ask you about any risk factors, such as allergies. If it doesn’t come up in consultation, ask the question.
The TGA has also put together a helpful list of things to consider before getting dermal fillers and they recommend this site for things to consider before anti-wrinkle injections.
- Common red flags
The Channel 7 report included comment from a woman who had a bad experience after purchasing a dermal filler treatment on Groupon. The report also warned against at-home clinics advertised on Gumtree.
While it can be tempting to get a deal, extremely cheap prices should ring alarm bells. As the old saying goes, if it seems too good to be true it probably is. Every clinic is subject to similar ‘cost of goods’ i.e. the price at which they can purchase genuine branded injectable products from the manufacturers.
The cost at which the product is then sold for will depend on a number of things including the experience of the practitioner, overheads, profit margin etc. Prices will vary, however any practitioner offering treatments at a fraction of the price may be cutting corners.
It’s also important to remember that these are medical procedures, and most doctors do not advertise on discount sites. Cosmetic doctors may advertise on social media, but you can always look at their social media and web page for more information about their clinic. You can also read reviews online.
Avoid at-home clinics. A proper clinic will have the ability to provide a safer and more sterile environment than any live-in space.
We appreciate this can seem like a lot of work, but in the absence of a clear, nationally recognised system of accreditation, the burden of identifying reputable practitioners is incumbent on the patient – we hope this changes soon.
In the meantime we will continue to be as transparent as we can regarding the nature of our services so that you can continue to visit our clinics informed, assured and of course safely.
Do you have any other questions? Ask us in the comments below.