(Q) Why do some consumers prefer to obtain fillers and filler treatments from non-doctors such as beauticians?
(A) In medical fraternities around the world, doctors are discouraged from self-promotion; in fact this is frowned upon. Every ad produced by a medical establishment must be approved by the relevant local health authorities before it is released to the public. For every ad by a medical establishment there are many more ads produced by beauty salon chains. Beauty salon chains are also more often located in busy places such as shopping malls. Naturally, these beauty salons appear more visible and accessible than medical establishments such as clinics offering aesthetic services.
A doctor is more thorough in his consultation than a beautician. A doctor is required to assess the patient, mention the treatments and options available, counsel the patient as to which treatment is most suitable while bringing to his or her attention the possible side effects. A consultation with a beautician does not involve so many steps. More often than not, customers are being assessed on how much they can afford to and are willing to pay for their products. Customers are often pitched to in such a way that they only hear the good news and glowing comments of the person performing the procedure for them, whether or not they are legal or verifiable. In addition, beauticians often use good-looking photos and promotions to attract the consumer when peddling their services on social media; again this is regardless of whether what they are promoting is legal or verifiable.
Beauty salons often employ marketing and advertising agencies or agents whose sole purpose is to promote them in exchange for a fee. Part of the arrangement may involve fee-splitting or kickbacks. However, doctors are not allowed to do this; it is in fact illegal for a doctor to give a commission to agencies or agents promoting their services.
(Q) Why is it important for consumers to turn to doctors for fillers and other aesthetic treatments?
(A) Doctors should be the ONLY people consumers should turn to for fillers and medical aesthetic treatments as they have been trained in the anatomy of the face and body and are familiar with its layers of skin, muscle, bone and network of blood vessels, capillaries, etc.
Unlike beauticians, doctors in Malaysia have been trained as undergraduates for at least five years, followed by a year or two as junior housemen and then serving in a government hospital for another three years before they are able to venture out into private practice. Medical knowledge and experience takes time to acquire.
Medical procedures may appear simple but doctors are best suited to do them as they see the patient as a whole and not simply a nose to be straightened or a face to be filled. Anyone can be trained to be a technician with rudimentary skills to inject a filler if they are daring enough to hold and use a needle.
However, obtaining a good result with a high quality and suitable product, having good anatomical knowledge and knowing how to both avoid and manage complications should they arise lie squarely in the realm of the trained medical professional. Complications have arisen from procedures conducted even by experienced doctors. If and when complications arise, a trained doctor will know what necessary steps to take to contain the damage.
Beauticians are not trained in the anatomy of the face and body. If complications arise, beauticians are likely to not know what to do to manage and contain the problem, which could lead to permanent and irreversible damage.
Pharmaceutical companies producing genuine and registered fillers will only sell to licensed and medically qualified doctors and never to beauty salons or other unregistered practitioners. This means that all products used by non-qualified personnel are either fake or unregistered products with all the problems associated.
You should also never attempt to inject fillers into your own skin. It would be quite reckless to buy a filler from an online supplier (which, as I have mentioned, is most likely a fake or compromised filler) and then try injecting it while looking into a mirror where the image is flipped left to right. This is dangerous and not worth risking all the side effects that have been mentioned, including permanent blindness.
(Q) Who can consumers go to when they have problems after using fake fillers and other aesthetic treatments?
(A) Consumers must turn to doctors should they encounter problems with fake fillers, injectable products, or other aesthetic treatments. Sometimes the problem can be solved with no long-term consequences while at other times, it may take time and multiple procedures to correct mistakes. Sometimes there may be no known solutions to the problem.
There are some filler complications that even plastic surgeons are unable or not keen to operate on as doing so may cause other side effects for the patient. Patients who approach me with complications are often embarrassed to tell others about their problem and prefer not to highlight their mistake.
Prevention is better than cure; it is always better to approach a doctor when choosing to undergo an aesthetic treatment than after the damage is done.
Dr Hew Yin Keat is a user of TEOSYAL ® Hyaluronic Acid Dermal Fillers range.
Click here for Part 1 of the article