Aesthetics reports on the global gathering of Merz aesthetic practitioners in Germany
Focused on ‘The Life Changing Power of Aesthetic Medicine’, the Merz Expert Summit on November 16 brought together more than 450 leading providers of the Merz portfolio, from across the globe, for a day of innovation and education.
Philip Burchard, CEO of Merz Group, opened proceedings with an overview of the company restructure, emphasising that this change was made to strengthen focus for aesthetic customers and drive sustainable growth. He then welcomed the newly-appointed CEO of Merz Aesthetics, Bob Rhatigan, who said, “The restructure will offer better responsiveness, agility and access to all people in the Merz organisation, at all levels. Globally, everyone in Merz Aesthetics will be focused on serving practitioners.”
UK-based practitioner Dr Kate Goldie opened the Summit, describing the event as the ‘hottest ticket in town’ in which a visionary programme would be presented.
She went on to lead a fascinating discussion of how practitioners need to recognise ‘facial perception drift’ in which she presented evidence of how easily our perceptions can be altered as we become more familiar with the way something looks. Both patients and practitioners can become ‘visually drunk’ she said; the more used to looking at something unusual we get, the more normal it becomes. Dr Goldie advised practitioners to be aware of their own perception drift and teach patients of the concept, warning that without doing so aesthetic results will become more and more unnatural.
Aesthetic practitioner Dr Steven Dayan also gave an insightful presentation on the importance of recognising biases. He emphasised the fact that ‘beauty’ is a proven mathematical concept, relating back to PHI, yet ‘attractiveness’ is a conscious, biased interpretation. He claimed that 50% of how beautiful/attractive we find a person is based on a subconscious bias of what we know is ‘beautiful’, while the other 50% is a conscious choice of what an individual person finds ‘attractive’. Dr Dayan stressed how attractiveness is different for everyone, even amongst aesthetic professionals – citing research that indicates the differing views of plastic surgeons and dermatologists. To demonstrate his point, Dr Dayan asked the audience to vote for the features of noses, lips, chins and buttocks they deemed ‘most attractive’ which, as expected, produced a variety of results.
To conclude he emphasised how practitioners need to recognise their own biases and expand their reference range. “Step into someone else’s space to see things differently,” he said, “You have to have an open mind and look at other perspectives.”
The agenda also featured an innovative talk on the impact of botulinum toxin on emotional wellbeing. Dr Fiona Gupta, assistant professor of neurology at Mount Sinai Hospital, reminded delegates that while many people dismiss aesthetic treatment as not being ‘healthcare’, the World Health Organization’s definition of health is, ‘A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. She emphasised that aesthetic practitioners can have a huge impact on patients’ psychosocial wellbeing and presented evidence that indicates as such.
The day continued with live demonstrations and interactive presentations from Merz’s renowned global faculty, who advised on the best practice use of the full Merz portfolio of products; Belotero, Bocouture, Radiesse, Ultherapy and Cellfina.
Following the presentations, Aesthetics sat down with Dr Terri L. Phillips, vice president and head of global medical affairs at Merz, to find out more about the company’s portfolio and development.
“We have a unique portfolio of products that offers a comprehensive package to practitioners and can be optimised across patient demographics,” she said. In her role, Dr Phillips oversees the research and development of new products, getting them through the approval process and ensuring clinicians understand how to use them safely.
She notes that Merz values the expertise of the practitioners using its products and aim to learn from their experiences. “It’s very common for practitioners to use products in a different way to how we recommend, so our job is to take all that new information and bring it back into the company as intelligence and decide whether we should pursue that way of use,” she said.
One product’s development that Merz will be focusing on in particular in 2020 is Radiesse, noted Dr Phillips, explaining, “There’s nothing like Radiesse in the market and we plan to do more to collaborate with clinicians and educate them on its uses going forward.”
Dr Phillips concluded by emphasising the role of Merz Aesthetic Consultants, or MACs, who are experienced Merz trainers that offer one-to-one support to product users. She said, “Sometimes practitioners will have questions above and beyond what is on the instructions for use or has been covered in their initial training so, on request, MACs will visit them in their clinic and train them on advanced techniques, ensuring they use products in the safest possible way.”