How do I know the person putting a needle in my face is safe?

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With the injectable cosmetic industry being unregulated, how do you know that the person injecting substances in your face is safe when there are no standards an individual has to achieve to pass the course? Sadly, you can’t and that is why we have created this blog to use as a guide when choosing your practitioner.

As a Diagnostic Radiographer I sit in a unique position as I am classed as a medic by some and a non-medic by others. This gives me an opportunity to understand and respect those practitioners with a beauty background and those who come from a medical background. I have also been subjected to criticism from both non-medics and medics and have witnessed some very vicious arguments between both sides.

Whilst having a medical background does have its advantages, it does not mean that you are necessarily safer than others; no one wakes up one day and knows how to inject Botox or fillers or can recognise complications or how to solve them. I have heard of Nurses being struck off for putting a dirty needle back in a Botox bottle and I have come across a Dr who did not know that she caused a blockage of an artery in a patient’s lips and had to go home and print the protocol out to resolve it.

Having a medical background does have benefits, as a healthcare professional, we must uphold the standards expected of us to enable us to stay registered and use our protected title. These standards include protecting the identity of those in our care, never going out of our scope of practice and always continually learning. Having spent 3 years at university gaining my undergraduate degree in Diagnostic Radiography, we had it drilled into us that we should be reflecting on our practice and always reading, learning and applying the best practice available at the time. This means that we naturally pass these requirements over into aesthetics because we understand the importance and both myself and another Diagnostic Radiographer who practises aesthetics often pass each other studies we have read and discuss anatomy and complications and best practice.

With that being said, there are some fantastic individuals who do not have medical backgrounds that do respect their clients information, who spend hours and hours reading and researching and continually develop their skills to be the safest and best practitioner they can be. I have also witnessed some amazing support within groups of non-medics who offer support each other in their time of need.

Practitioners from both non-medical and medical background do however agree on one thing, that the industry should be regulated to ensure that all training schools provide the same basic training, no matter their background. It will however take a long time for this to happen and insurance companies and Health Professional Registration Bodies are starting to take things into their own hands with some insurance companies not insuraning those from a non-medical background and some Professional bodies such as the General Pharmaceutical Council no longer allowing their Pharmacists to prescribe for those not professionally registered.


So how do I choose my practitioner?


As we have seen, it does not matter what their background is, anyone can practice unsafely and that is why you need to choose the individual based on their own merit. That being said, here are a few pointers to look for in your practitioner:


·   Having a medical background is beneficial, but whether they do or do not, make sure they have access to a Prescriber. This will mean they have support if they need it and someone to prescribe emergency medication. A prescriber will have a professional qualification that enables you to find them on their professional registration such as the NMC, HCPC and GPhC (if not a Doctor or Dentist).

·   Botox is a prescription only medicine and If you are having Botox treatment it is best practice for you to have regular face to face consultations with the person prescribing it for you. It is also best practice for you to have a two week follow up with the practitioner. Often, the practitioner will not be insured if you do not see the prescriber face to face.

·   The practitioner should hold emergency drugs at their place of work. This includes adrenaline in case of anaphylaxis and Hyaluronidase which dissolves filler in the case of an artery blockage. If the practitioner does not have a prescriber, ask if they have the emergency drugs (there is nothing wrong with asking to see them either).

·   Ask where the practitioner is getting their products from. Botox is a prescription only medicine and so can only be purchased from an MHRA regulated pharmacy. There are other places where filler can be brought and as a practitioner I am often approached by random companies to buy both Botox and fillers from them which are not safe as there is no tracking process or regulation for their products.  

·   Does the individual know what a complication might look like and what to do if it happens? Ask them what they would do and what they would look for. Furthermore, do they have support in place in case it was to happen?

·   You should always have an opportunity to have a consultation with your practitioner and should never be encouraged to have a treatment done, make sure you are being listened to and not just heard. Ask yourself whether you feel they will work “on” you or “with” you.

·   When you actually go and have your treatment, a full medical history should be taken and it is important to make sure that you are being given the opportunity to make an informed decision. You should be given the opportunity to ask questions and have the benefits explained, along with possible complications (including the most severe) and the alternatives available- you cannot make an informed decision or consent without this.

·   If the price is too cheap, ask yourself why as Botox and fillers are not cheap products to purchase. It might be that vials of Botox (prescribed to one person and should only be used on that one person) are being shared, or a 1ml syringe is being split between individuals.

·   Most importantly, follow your gut.

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