2014: The year of Non-Surgical Facial Aesthetics

19 Mar 2014

Dr Brian Franks is a Facial Aesthetic clinician, and the Clinical Lead for the MSc in Non-Surgical Facial Aesthetics at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)

By 2015 it is estimated that cosmetic treatments in the UK will be worth £3.6bn. Currently non-surgical cosmetic procedures make up 75% of these treatments – and their popularity is increasing daily. 

In 2010 the number of non-surgical cosmetic procedures exceeded the one million mark for the first time and that figure has been rising yearly alongside other forms of cosmetic treatment ever since. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), in 2013 there were 50,122 cosmetic procedures performed in the UK, which represents a rise of 17% from the previous years.

These statistics reveal what many clinics could already tell you; commercially there has never been a better time to provide non-surgical facial aesthetics (NSFA). 

The most popular forms of NSFA you can offer are botulinum toxin and dermal fillers. Since the 1990s these treatments have experienced expanding interest as consumer awareness has increased and the focus in the media has moved toward enhancing aesthetics through cosmetic treatments. The popularity of these non-surgical solutions comes from their relative affordability when compared to surgical procedures and their heightened effectiveness when measured against skin creams, gels and moisturisers.

In 2011 it was reported that the previous year saw three million injections of botulinum toxin (type A) administered worldwide, and as more and more celebrities and public figures choose to have these procedures, clinics and practices will see more demand from their patients who wish to emulate their idols. 

However, with this increase in popularity the industry has found itself firmly under the spotlight, and in recent years its rules and regulations have been heavily scrutinised with many professionals predicting tougher legislation to govern cosmetic treatments. Now, in 2014, new proposals advocating this more strict approach have hit the headlines following a government report.

The main areas addressed by the report include:

• Regulating advertising and clamping down on irresponsible offers and competitions.

• Reviewing patient complaint and redress processes.

• Recommendations to improve and standardise training and supervision for practitioners.

The proposed changes have been designed to protect both patients and clinicians and to ensure that the highest possible quality of treatment is provided. As such I whole-heartedly welcome these proposals. 

The government report also recommended that dermal fillers should become prescription only but this will not become legislation, instead the focus will be on ensuring adequate training for the practitioners of dermal fillers at this time. 

Of course, it is always very important that professionals are appropriately trained to provide NSFA, and so I fully support the proposed legislation on training, but also believe that dermal fillers should be provided by prescription only. 

It goes without saying that all clinicians should receive a high standard of structured tuition to ensure they can provide NSFA safely and competently to their patients. It is also important to demonstrate continuing professional development (CPD) to ensure clinicians have up-to-date knowledge and sufficient skills to deliver safe and effective treatment. 

The consistent increase in popularity, combined with such stricter policies should prove to be greatly beneficial for any appropriately trained practitioner. The more regulated the industry the more confident patients will feel knowing that the NSFA treatments on offer are licensed, safe and adequately governed. 

In fact patients already seem to be returning for more cosmetic procedures than ever before. A recent survey sited by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology revealed that 75% of people who had undergone a facial cosmetic procedure would consider having another.   

Historically significantly more women than men choose to undertake cosmetic procedures; currently 90% are carried out on women – but this trend is beginning to reverse. It is also becoming more common for patients to consider cosmetic treatment at a younger age, with an increasing number of both women and men in their mid to late twenties turning to these treatments as a form of ‘anti-ageing’ procedure. This increased interest from younger patients will have even more positive effects on the industry, as they will be more likely to return to ‘top-up’ in an effort to maintain their youthful looks. 

As it becomes more widely acceptable for patients to consider NSFA as a form of confidence booster or cosmetic enhancement, a practice or clinic that provides it will be able to capitalise on the growing interest and returning clients. When offered alongside other aesthetic dentistry such as orthodontics or whitening, NSFA gives patients the choice of combining the perfect smile with a beautiful frame.

The optimum way to ensure that your practice is ready to meet this demand, as well as satisfying any new legislation that arises out of the latest proposals, is to enrol on an NSFA course led by an experienced, industry endorsed teacher. Courses that provide hands-on tuition covering all aspects of these treatments from the consultation process right through to injecting and aftercare are the most effective, and they should focus on ensuring you can perform NSFA competently and safely. Modules such as advanced anatomy theory allied to head and neck cadaver dissection, I believe, should also be incorporated within the training.

A project is currently underway, where Health education England (HEE) will work with regulators and royal colleges to conduct a review of the qualifications required for non-surgical cosmetic procedures and the qualifications required to be responsible prescribers. 

There is no doubt that interest in such minimally invasive cosmetic procedures is expanding, both commercially and legislatively, and that 2014 will see this grow and grow throughout the year. You should therefore ensure that you can provide your patients with the treatments they want, embracing 2014 as the year of NSFA.

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