Adding Nutritional Services to Your Clinic

By Shannon Kilgariff / 05 Jan 2021

Practitioners explain the types of nutritional services they offer patients to help provide a well-rounded treatment approach and expand their product offering

Aesthetics is changing. While it was once common for a clinic to focus purely on the outside appearance of their patients’ concerns such as lines and wrinkles, many are now also looking at overall wellness and how the skin and body might be helped from within.

Here, practitioners detail what nutritional-based services they offer in their clinics and share tips for successful integration into business.

Miss Mayoni Gooneratne chooses skin and wellbeing supplements

Skin is the largest organ in our bodies, so of course it’s going to be directly influenced by nutrition. I believe that as medical professionals, it’s important we are holistic practitioners and treat our patients as a whole. I like to consider patients as an entire person, rather than just the frown line they are concerned about.

Offering nutritional services is just one part of what I do in my clinic to offer a holistic service. When I have a consultation with a patient, I will talk to them about many things surrounding their health and lifestyle as well as any cosmetic concerns they have. Along with other treatments, I will discuss nutritional supplements and integrate them as samples into my treatment plans and packages. I have found that this has been a successful way to get patients accustomed to using supplements and once they start to see a general benefit in their skin, they continue to purchase them; especially my patients with acne.

In my clinic I recommend Advanced Nutrition Programme supplements and I choose these because they are evidencebased, which I believe is important for any treatment or product you integrate into your practice. I have many patients who are in the peri or menopausal stage, so I will often advise them on supplements that can help their symptoms. I particularly like to recommend Nutri Advanced supplements with vitamin C, vitamin D, melatonin and magnesium – what I suggest really depends on the particular symptoms of the individual. For vascular hot flushes we would advocate zinc, phytoestrogens, black cohosh and ginseng, for example, or for sleep it would be magnesium.

To assist us in our supplement recommendations, we also carry out genetic testing for patients. This is a service that involves taking a swab, which will be sent to the lab to create a whole in-depth genetic breakdown for patients, such as what food groups they are most suited to, and it can help us advise on the supplements that are more likely to be needed to help with their skin and general wellness, which is really important. If practitioners are thinking about introducing this service to their clinic, it’s important to know that some genetic companies will store and sell on patient data to third parties so be mindful of this before choosing.

Although I believe that medical professionals can successfully incorporate skin and wellbeing supplements into their clinics, the next step is to work alongside a nutritionist. Having a functional nutritionist on the team has been invaluable for my clinic because it links really well with the bio-identical hormone therapy work we do and is also especially helpful in supporting resistant-acne patients.

Mrs Sabrina Shah-Desai recommends nutraceuticals

I really do believe in the inside-out approach to optimising skin. Aesthetic practice isn’t complete without skincare and, for my clinic, nutraceuticals form a part of skincare.

When nutraceuticals came to market a few years ago, I along with many colleagues were quite hesitant about them as early studies were not very robust. But now I believe more and more good evidence is emerging that supports hydrolysed collagen, along with other vitamins, for neocollagenesis and to promote wound healing.

It’s important to know that collagen drinks need other components such as vitamin C and zinc at high doses to be effective for improving lines, wrinkles, hydration and skin quality. I began incorporating nutraceuticals into my practice after personal experience. I started going through the menopause and found that after six months of drinking Skinade I saw a significant improvement in my skin hydration, fine lines and wrinkles around my eyes, while my hair and nails also improved.

So, I started sharing this experience with my patients. I stock both Skinade and Totally Derma in my practice. Initially I would speak to patients about them or have fliers in the clinic, however just over a year ago we started giving patients a Skinade or Totally Derma drink if they wanted it, instead of other drinks we had in the fridge. This has really helped increase sales because patients get to taste it and they engage with the product much more. They want to know why the clinic offers it and how it might help their skin journey.

I choose to have two different brands because it gives patients more choice. Some people won’t like the distinct taste of a particular nutraceutical or perhaps the sugar content or the type of packaging that it comes in will put them off. For example, Totally Derma has a totally different flavour to Skinade, it comes in a powder to be mixed in water or sprinkled onto food, whereas Skinade comes in a bottle or a liquid sachet.

It’s important that practitioners understand how they can use nutraceuticals to help their patients before they bring them into their practice. Patients need to be educated in how results are achieved and understand that they are an extension to skincare, not a replacement; they can optimise the results that will be achieved through aesthetic treatments such as microneedling or lasers. I think the key target patients for nutraceuticals are peri or menopausal women, as they are more likely than millennials to see results to their dehydrated skin, lines and wrinkles.

I definitely believe more studies are needed in this area; we need to look at how long the products need to be taken in different age groups to see beneficial effects, as well as the longevity of the results once you stop taking it, and potential adverse effects. I think nutraceuticals are good to help support the in-clinic treatments that we do as well as to enhance surgical results; they’re all about optimisation. In my opinion nutraceuticals do give the skin an inside-out approach – I think it’s like putting good oil in the engine for great performance!

Dr Arun Ghosh utilises IVNT and vitamin injections

I have been offering intramuscular (IM) vitamin injections in my practice for at least 10 years and intravenous nutrient therapy (IVNT) for more than five. It’s always been part of our medical approach to look at people’s vitamins and mineral levels, but this nutritional therapy has really evolved into its own area of our practice.

IM injections, or vitamin shots, such as vitamin B12 or vitamin D, are high-concentration vitamins and offer a slow release into the blood. IVNT usually involves several different types of vitamins, minerals or amino acids at larger doses which are infused directly into the blood, so is a faster way to deliver the nutrients at a better absorption rate.

We should be eating a balanced diet and getting all the vitamins and minerals we need from it, but the reality is that many of us are nutritionally poor. While I do always advise my patients to follow a healthy diet, I have found IVNT is helpful for our aesthetic patients. This is because these people are really aware of when their skin is behaving poorly due to things like alcohol, stress, or changes in diet from perhaps exploring vegetarianism or veganism. Also, from a medical point of view, we are seeing more patients come in after gastric surgery and are deficient in certain nutrients, which is when IVNT can help.

We often combine nutritional therapy with aesthetic procedures to help enhance the results. For example, we will use IVNT with plateletrich plasma treatments to boost the blood’s nutrients. When we take the blood and put it back into the skin the added nutrients can really further enhance the overall skin tone. I have found that IVNT following treatments like chemical peels can also help with recovery time, as the skin is better hydrated, which can further better the results.

In surgical patients, a multivitamin drip can be performed as soon as straight after discharge and may help with recovery from things like grogginess and tiredness from anaesthetic and post-surgical recovery. My advice to those looking at integrating nutritional therapy into their practice is to start small. Begin with IM injections first, perhaps B12 and vitamin D, and then grow with increased demand. Seek training from a respected company that can provide you with ongoing support and buy your vitamins through a reputable pharmacy – you need to use really good pharmaceutical-grade products.

Know what the treatment involves – there is more regulation in this area than people think. It’s good practice to be associated with bodies such as the Association of Intravenous Micro-nutrition and Supplementation (AIMs). This is so that practice in IVNT is standardised and practitioners get support in the event of any issues, share information, and keep abreast with regular updates and training.

Ideally, I personally believe you should be CQC registered, although it’s not compulsory if you are using IVNT for ‘general wellness’ and just sticking to vitamins, minerals and amino acids. This becomes compulsory if you are using intravenous nutritional drug therapy. In regard to marketing, be careful not to make false claims.1-3 These are wellness drips to improve patients’ wellbeing and enhance aesthetic results, which won’t have medical outcomes – you don’t want to oversell it!

One useful approach for IVNT treatments is to do vitamin drip days, where people can come in and sit together and have tailored drips. Of course, we have stopped this due to COVID-19, but it really capitalises your time and space while making it more of a social experience for patients, so I think it will be useful for many clinics once things return back to normal.

There are a few interesting developments on the horizon such as the use of peptides or hormones and vitamins all together in shots, which, in my opinion, will be the next big thing. People are also looking at transdermal applications for those who don’t like needles. This is very much an evolving area in aesthetics so watch this space!

Dr Salinda Johnston emphasises the business benefits of IVNT and vitamin injections

We find that IVNT and vitamin shots are a great addition to our product offering and the biggest draw for patients is that the vitamins are going directly into the body. We offer quite a few different IVNT and vitamin injection options for patients.

Our most popular treatments are the biotin shot, which helps to promote hair health, the glutathione drip or injection for skin brightening, and the B12 injection, which is very beneficial and popular with our vegan patients as it helps energy levels. One of our most popular IVNT drips is called the Wellness Myer, named after Dr John Myers who was the pioneer of vitamin cocktails, and it aims to help improve general wellbeing, energy levels, metabolism and overall digestive health.

We often recommend that patients try our IVNT or vitamin shots to complement other treatments they might be having in clinic. For example, we might combine the diet and detox drip, which aims to help with fat burning and detoxification, with our body contouring treatments.

From a business perspective, we find that because many of our patients might already be getting these services elsewhere, it’s more convenient for them to come to our clinic and include it with another treatment they might already be having. It’s less hassle for them and a good additional revenue generator for us.

For some services, like vitamin B12 injections, it also means they are visiting the clinic more regularly, sometimes once a week, depending on their treatment plan. We have a few patients who come for a biotin or glutathione shot every week too!

My advice for anyone looking to integrate IVNT or vitamin injections into their clinic would be to really consider if you have the space in your clinic, as well as the time for training. You need to ensure you consult patients well and avoid those with allergies, medical conditions or other contraindications. In terms of marketing, we have found that practitioner recommendations work best, as well as flyers in clinic.

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