Dr Lee Walker shares his journey to becoming an international trainer and key opinion leader
“We need unity and to focus on patient safety”
One of seven children growing up in a busy terraced house in Liverpool, Dr Lee Walker’s unique sanctuary in his early years was detention, where he would voluntary go for peace and quiet to study. The study paid off, Dr Walker says, “After school, I did Biomedical Science at Manchester University and then I went to Liverpool University to become a dental surgeon, specialising in orthodontics. I finished in 1999 and worked for the NHS for a while, before opening my own practice. It wasn’t until 2001 that I started to dip my toes into the aesthetics pool after a friend introduced me to botulinum toxin.” Dr Walker says that, at the time, toxin was being used off-license for cosmetic indications, and there was not a lot of literature available.
He explains, “Training was less than half a day and you basically had to learn on the job, which, as we now know, is not the best or safest way to do things – it’s scary looking back and wondering how things didn’t end up worse.” He adds, “Fillers hadn’t really evolved at that time, and I remember there was only three types of filler – thick, thick and thick! We now know that we require different fillers for different anatomical areas to achieve the best results.” Success didn’t happen overnight for Dr Walker. He reminisces, “Aesthetics was incredibly niche and treatments were expensive; there was only a small cohort of patients who could afford it. I slowly accumulated patients by opening a dialogue with my dental patients, who already trusted me. I originally had around 90% dental and 10% aesthetic patients, which shifted to 50/50 and then, gradually, in 2013, I stopped doing dentistry altogether.” Dr Walker believes that newer practitioners don’t always understand how long it takes to get patients. “New practitioners are trying to create an instant switch into aesthetics. They do a course and then expect a queue of patients, which, as a trainer, is frustrating. For me it was slow progress and took a lot of time.”
Dr Walker’s aesthetic clinic in Liverpool, B City Clinics, is now entirely focused on non-surgical aesthetic treatments and he has three practitioners working for him there. However, the majority of his time is now dedicated to educating others. Dr Walker runs his own training academy and is an national and international trainer for Teoxane, recently becoming co-lead of medical education for the UK. So how did he get to this stage? “I started using Teosyal products about 12 years ago and I really liked them,” he explains, noting, “One day my sales rep got in touch with me because he was impressed with my industry and product knowledge and asked if I would consider doing some small scale training. It was really basic; we just invited a few practitioners to the clinic and did a lecture and a demonstration. After a while we started to build a small following, and I was asked by Teoxane to offer this training once a month; it gradually went from there.” Dr Walker recounts his first large-scale event at The Royal Society of Medicine. “I remember being incredibly nervous for fear of letting people down. I didn’t think I did myself justice, but the delegates and company seemed to like it. My journey into training started off from humble beginnings and I think that’s what most people need to become an international KOL.”
Dr Walker highlights that to become a successful international representative for a leading company you need to be persistant and work hard. He says, “I always compare being a KOL to being in a rock band, like The Rolling Stones. They didn’t get successful overnight, they started off playing at small events, and then worked their way up.” Dr Walker has now spoken in 30 countries and is preparing for tours in Australia, the Middle East and Canada in 2020. Dr Walker has also obtained a Certificate in Clinical Education from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow, which he says has been key in his success in training others. “I absolutely recommend other prospective trainers to complete formal education in training. I think it’s one thing that sets me apart as I understand how to teach and recognise different learning styles. I don’t like to call myself a teacher because it’s almost a position of dominance; instead, want to be a peer and be inspirational to people.” Other than training, Dr Walker works with the Aesthetic Complications Expert (ACE) Group, having been a part of the association since it was established in 2010. “My proudest achievement is seeing our credible work published because its evidence-based, which a lot of aesthetics isn’t.
Another highlight would be speaking at big international conferences with world leaders on complications.” When asked his top tips of advice for other practitioners, Dr Walker says, “Be patient, be resilient, be safe. Aesthetics can be quite an intimidating environment to be in. The industry can become almost like a tribe and there is a lot rivalry. What we need is to stick together; we need unity and to focus on one thing, which to me is patient safety.”
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