In June 2015, official figures revealed that the average age in the UK had reached 40 for the first time as life expectancy continues to soar. There are more than 11.4 million people in Britain who are aged over 65 – a figure that increased by 300,000 in only a year.1 As the population grows and its average age increases, so does the number of people entering later life who want to look as good as they feel. Previously considered a luxury for the privileged elite, today a variety of treatments that can address this need have become affordable and accessible to a new generation.
In 2013-14 there were 50,000 cosmetic surgery procedures performed in the UK. However, 90% of all the cosmetic procedures conducted here used non-surgical techniques.2 The most requested cosmetic procedures in the UK market are wrinkle reducing and dermal filler injections, and demand for such treatments is set to grow. With worldwide economic changes and rising consumer incomes driving the global beauty care industry, this is predicted to increase to $265 billion by 2017.3
Aesthetic medicine involves the treatment of healthy patients with elective procedures to manage the normal effects of ageing, including loose skin and wrinkles. However, it is not just for the ageing patient. Simple cosmetic techniques can be used to treat scars and to enhance facial features, such as the lips, the cheeks and the jawline. The procedures used, typically involving Botox® / botulinum toxin and dermal fillers, are low risk and minimally invasive with short recovery times. They can significantly enhance a patient’s quality of life, psychological wellbeing and social function.
Because of the increasing demand for these treatments, clinicians who already have the necessary transferable skills, such as the ability to confidently perform injections, may find the transition to aesthetic medicine comparatively straightforward. Many doctors, dentists and nurses already work in the industry alongside their regular NHS duties and have welcomed the opportunity to expand their expertise working with more satisfied patients, in a less stressful environment. Increased autonomy and more flexible working hours are just two of the other benefits.
Doctors are particularly well suited to aesthetic medicine as they are already equipped with all the necessary practical skills. They also have a good understanding of anatomy, and know how and why to target (or avoid) muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Whether self-employed or working for a clinic, an aesthetic doctor could expect to earn significantly more per hour than a locum doctor. The increased income has allowed many doctors to reduce their working hours and some have left their NHS jobs altogether.
Dentists have advanced training in the oral and maxillofacial areas, and are familiar with addressing complications in these regions. They also have extensive experience giving relatively painless injections in the same areas to which Botox® and dermal fillers are applied. The main difference is that a dentist would usually inject intra-orally, while Botox and dermal fillers are extra-oral injections.
Nurses need to remember that while dermal fillers are classified as a medical device, botulinum toxin is a prescription only medicine (POM) and must be prescribed in a face-to-face consultation. However, you do not need to be an independent nurse prescriber to administer botulinum toxin or dermal fillers and the prescriber does not need to be present at the treatment.
The medical / dental skills you already have provide a sound basis for expanding into aesthetic medicine, and with some additional training to learn the actual procedures it should be possible to get started relatively quickly. Working for a company in your spare time might be a good strategy to begin with. Another option would be to hire treatment rooms to keep your overheads low. After gaining the appropriate experience, you may feel confident enough to start your own business, which can be very lucrative in a suitable location.
So there are increasing opportunities in aesthetic medicine for clinicians, and many already have the requisite skills. However, it is also important to get the right training and experience. The benefits of choosing an accredited training course should certainly not be underestimated. While not in a position to recommend particular trainers, the British Association of Cosmetic Nurses (BACN) does recommend training in a small group that guarantees a high trainer to pupil ratio; they also advocate learning from experienced trainers who are prepared to allow candidates to undertake treatments under supervision and are willing to provide follow-up support after the course. In addition, it is vital to be able to practice and gain experience post-training.4
Esthetique Academy offers Foundation and Advanced training courses taken by three very experienced cosmetic doctors in a relaxed and friendly environment at a prestigious location in London. There are also options to train in Nottingham and Liverpool. Each course covers the theoretical basis for treatment using Botox® or dermal fillers in some detail, before devoting a large amount of time to 1:1 hands-on practical sessions with a live model. For this reason, training is limited to smaller groups, of two to six candidates, only. Written material is also provided to support your studies as well as advice and tips on how to set up your own business. The courses are accredited by industry leaders in cosmetic insurance, including Hamilton Fraser and Cosmetic Insure. In addition, each course includes a free 1-year post-course mentoring service where all candidates will receive the personal mobile phone and email contact details for a doctor who will be available to answer questions on all aspects of the training.
Many of those who have completed lengthy and expensive medical or dental training programmes may be unaware of the opportunities that are available to develop their skills in alternative directions, and that this might be done in their spare time while retaining the security of an NHS position. It is certainly clear that in an increasingly image conscious world where medicine has already made a huge impact in enhancing wellbeing and longevity, the demand for these skills will become more not less, as aesthetic medicine also comes of age.
- The Daily Mail. Britain’s mid-life crisis. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3138853/Britain-s-mid-life-crisis-UK-average-age-hits-40-time-population-jumps-500-000-64-6-million.html>.
- Wikipedia. Aesthetic medicine. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesthetic_medicine>.
- Pettis, J. The Global Evolution of Aesthetics. <http://camedtrainingblog.com/global-evolution-aesthetics/#more-291>.
- British Association of Cosmetic Nurses. What is Aesthetic Medicine? <http://www.bacn.org.uk/content/566058da818644.79319286.pdf>.