The Last Word: Treatment Room Mirrors

By Nina Prisk / 28 Mar 2022

Nurse prescriber Nina Prisk presents her thoughts on whether or not aesthetic practitioners should have mirrors in treatment rooms

The presence of mirrors in treatment rooms is an extremely common occurrence for many aesthetic clinics. This is because they can be beneficial to both practitioner and patient, which has been detailed in relation to critical care nursing.1

However, there are some clinics that choose not to have mirrors in their treatment rooms, largely due to the impact mirrors may have on self-image and confidence. This article will go through what I believe to be the pros and cons of having mirrors in your treatment rooms so you can consider what the best approach might be for your clinic.

Why mirrors are integral to aesthetic practice

Personally, I find that the use of both handheld mirrors and a larger full-length mirror helps me to determine my treatment plan and to educate my patients. One of the early stages of the consultation process is to position my patient in front of the full-length mirror and undergo a static analysis of both the paralysed and animated face.2 Following this I would talk them through various aspects of their face, including factors such as asymmetry, the golden ratios for facial beauty3 and signs of ageing such as wrinkles and sagging skin. Although I could, of course, analyse without it, I believe that it’s necessary for the patient to see and understand what I am talking about in a large mirror.

Similarly, after the treatment has been performed, the mirror is an invaluable tool with which to present the work to the patient and allow them to see the difference it has made, whether this is medical or aesthetic. Of course this can also be achieved with before and after images (which should also be utilised) the mirror can be good for patient satisfaction as well as for managing their expectations. For example with lip filler, the patient can see their lips immediately after treatment and you can explain that the swelling is the worst it’s going to be and it will go down, rather than the patient seeing them for the first time at home and panicking. So, in my experience the mirror is both a necessary and useful tool for both the initial consultation and discussion about treatment, the treatment plan itself, and then the presentation of the treatment and follow-up.

The considerations of mirrors in practice

There are a number of reasons why people might find the presence of mirrors in a clinic room challenging, from general self-confidence issues, to not wanting to see the procedure because they may be needle-phobic or squeamish. Mirrors affecting mental health is also an issue which is extremely significant in society today, particularly in the case of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which although rare, can be severe and debilitating.4 In this case, the presence of mirrors may encourage the patient to spend an unnecessary amount of time staring at themselves and fixating on something that they think needs to be addressed.4

Practitioners should always be mindful of how the presence of too many mirrors could impact a patient who may be experiencing these self-confidence issues. It could therefore be a good idea to have a moveable, full-length mirror as opposed to large fixed wall mirrors, as it allows it to be decided on a patient-by-patient basis. Whereby, in the rare case that there are concerns about the patient’s self-confidence or desire to see themselves in the mirror, then steps can be taken to conduct the consultation and treatment without it. These concerns may be raised by the patient themselves or be things that were noticed by the practitioner during the initial consultation.

It’s in the eye of the practitioner In light of the duty of care that aesthetic practitioners have to their patients, both physically and psychologically, I believe mirrors are a necessary part of a practitioner’s work. They are not only useful to explain the anatomy of the face before referencing the work that will be done on relevant areas to establish an effective treatment plan, but they are also useful for the patient to see the results afterwards. I think there should not, however, be a one rule fits all strategy. If concerns are raised during the initial consultation, taking into account issues such as BDD and self-confidence, it’s my view that practitioners should be able to remove the mirror, which is why I personally don’t have fixed or decorative mirrors in my treatment rooms.

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