We are really entering the silly season now, with so many parties and events from November into the new year. For some people, it is only now that they start to look at their skin and general 'photo-readiness'. (Social media, of course, pushes this, as well as creating much anxiety around appearance – even to the extent of diagnosable mental health conditions – but that’s a whole other topic!)
Statistics show that the number of visits to clinics for all manner of “beauty” treatments, including anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers rises hugely in these eight weeks of the year. This makes sense, but can also be very risky.
In this rapidly expanding world of cosmetic medicine and beauty, there has developed a confusion between what things are beauty treatments and what are medical treatments. Australia’s regulatory processes have not kept up with the development of new centres and people offering these procedures. Add to this the push of the insta “influencer”, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Insta-Influencers are often recommending treatments that carry real risks, without clearly mentioning this, OR be recommending injectors who may not be qualified or professionals.
Put all this together, mix it up, and the result is more than a 200% increase in complaints about cosmetic treatments to NSW Fair Trading in recent years. The most common complaint was dissatisfaction with the quality of the service performed.
Dr Ron Feiner, the Medical Dean of the ACCS (Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery), says “there is a major misconception in Australia and around the world that anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers are beauty treatments, in the same category as facials. There has been a surge of people offering these services in casual settings like shopping malls, at hairdressers, and even ‘tox’ parties, which adds to the normalisation of procedures and puts patients at real risk of botched procedures”.
We are seeing more and more adverse events reported worldwide, including ulceration, infections, tissue death, migration of fillers and even blindness. Often, poorly trained injectors are not even aware of the risks posed by the treatments they are performing, so would have no chance of being prepared to deal with any of the possible complications or know how to inject in a way that minimises risk.
Of course, complication rates are higher with poorly trained or 'occasional' injectors whose experience and skills can’t be equal to those of a full-time professional injector. Would you hire someone to build your house, who just does a bit of hammering one day a week, but is really trained as a mechanic?
In Australia, at the moment there is nothing to stop someone having only a 1–2 day course before injecting clients. They might be very cheap, but is the risk worth it? Taking on these injectable treatments should only be done after proper consultation.
This consultation should include discussion of the desired outcome, understanding any risks and side effects, and consideration of other options. For example, we now have super-concentrated PRP systems (you know, take your blood, spin it and re-inject it – and NO all systems for doing this are NOT the same and won’t produce the same results,) with none of the risks of other injectables that can provide volume restoration and rejuvenation.
The very best idea is to make your skincare an all year story. Make a plan for achieving the best healthy skin you can with a regular program customised for you. Maybe that can be a New Years resolution! Merry Christmas!
Dr Holmes is the founder of the Mayah Clinic at Lakelands and a Fellow of the Cosmetic Physician College of Australasia and a Founding Fellow of the Australasian College of Aesthetic Medicine.