Non-surgical medical aesthetics is a rapidly growing sector of the health and wellness world. Most people are familiar with injectable treatments like Botox and Juvéderm. But medical aesthetics includes a wide range of treatment options including:
- lasers (light based)
- energy devices (radiofrequency, electro-magnetic, ultrasound etc.)
- at-dissolving injectables
- hair removal/hair restoration
- peels and medical facials
- sclerotherapy (leg vein treatment)
- removal of skin irregularities (liquid nitrogen and minor surgical)
- prescription and pharmaceutical grade topical treatments
- & more…
Interest in medical aesthetics has exploded on social media platforms and among Instagram influencers across the world. Non-surgical options have made medical aesthetics a democratic pursuit with options available for every age group and at every budget.
However, because medical aesthetics has expanded so fast the industry is also highly unregulated. For example, in Ontario the use of class 4 medical lasers (the most powerful and potentially dangerous) is entirely unregulated. There are no training requirements or oversight requirements for operators of such lasers in medical aesthetics. With little regulation, non-medical entrepreneurs are opening medical aesthetic businesses at a rapid pace. Many offer a single service such as laser hair removal at the nail salon, or Botox injections by a nurse in her/his home.
Given the lack of regulation, and this uncertain landscape, what should an individual look for in an aesthetic clinic?
Quite simply: safety and results.
How to assure safety? Look for a clinic that:
- Is run by medical professionals (doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses)
- Operates like a health facility (meets public health requirements)
- Has a medical director (MD or NP) on site
- The medical director is an extensively trained generalist in aesthetic medicine and the clinic is the main focus of their practice
- There is oversight of unregulated members of the team (laser technicians and medical aestheticians)
- Is available (regular hours) and provides follow-up should any problems arise
Because medical aesthetics is a broad and comprehensive range of treatments to address aging it can be difficult for an individual to know which treatment might provide the best result.
A good way to think about it is this: if you developed an abdominal pain which doctor would you need to see? A gastroenterologist? A general surgeon? A gynecologist? An internist? Our medical system is set up in such a way that you see your family doctor first who will make a provisional diagnosis of your pain and send you to the appropriate specialist.
Similarly, when it comes to aesthetics, if you have pigmentation on your face that bothers you, is that due to sun damage? Or due to a hormonal condition like melasma? Or is it a precancerous skin condition or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation? What treatment is best for your hyperpigmentation depends on the diagnosis. Age-related changes like sagging skin might best be treated with dermal fillers, or radiofrequency treatment, or a combination of ablative laser and topical pharmaceutical agents. How do you decide which treatment would provide the best result? Self-diagnosis and a la carte shopping for treatments can often lead to disappointing results.
So how to best assure great results? Look for a clinic that:
- Offers comprehensive care in medical aesthetics (broad range of treatment options)
- Has a medical director (MD or NP) on site who can provide evaluation and diagnosis (in person is preferable to virtual)
- Is owner/operated to ensure optimum oversight and vested interest in the clinic and its clients
- Can provide prescription and non-prescription treatments
- Offers a comprehensive consultation and a customized treatment plan
- Has ‘Lookbooks’ – before & after pictures of the clinics’ own work (not just industry photos)
- Provides photographic skin analysis technology to aid diagnosis and track progress
- Has the skill and capacity to offer stacked or combined treatments to optimize results
- Provides a range of products and treatment options for all budgets
- Provides follow up and ensures care for any concerns
From a business point of view, many clinics offer other modern conveniences. Look for:
- Online booking
- Online store for products (in-store pickup and shipping)
- Comprehensive and current website listing all services, staff bios, prices, blogs etc.
- Chat, text, email communication options
- Presence on Instagram and Facebook
- Easy access to reviews
- Easy access clinic store/front locations and ample parking
Doing a bit a research up front makes a world of difference to ensure your first experience in the vast and confusing world of medical aesthetics is a good one. Now that you are armed with what you need to know, what are you waiting for?