The Latest on Cosmetic Treatments – Is It Dangerous?!

The Latest on Cosmetic Treatments – Is It Dangerous?!

Are you concerned about how to find good, professional, well trained providers in the Cosmetic Medicine industry? You can hardly help noticing lately the spate of Cosmetic Medicine disasters in the news. The death of the woman in Sydney from injectables, horrific laser burns and so on have drawn attention nationwide to the many poorly trained providers and unprofessional clinics in this industry. This is something the medical community has been lobbying about for years.

The Laser Health and Safety Standard (which will now include IPL) is being overhauled for the first time since 2004, which is a start in the right direction! The final meeting of the committee responsible was in early October, so the standards should be released very soon. There is also now an Australian standards and scope of practice for Cosmetic Nurses. Of course these documents are only half the battle. If they are not enforced with serious consequences for illegal practices, it won’t change anything.  The only states that currently have regulations covering the use of light devices such as lasers and IPL are Queensland,  Western Australia and Tasmania.

There are even well known doctors who are not adhering to the rules around injectables (Botox, Dysport, Dermal Fillers). These are schedule 4 prescription products and the current rules say that they must be prescribed by a doctor, and only then can they be injected by someone else. This might seem excessive. You might feel they are really safe. Aren’t they even used at “Botox parties”? Yes, that does happen, and is illegal. But why? Why are they schedule 4? Because of the potential side effects that need medical management. That’s why the industry is called Cosmetic Medicine! It doesn’t take long googling dermal filler adverse events to collect some scary stories. Seminars in this business are full of reports of side effects.

So, this isn’t just “legal stuff”. It is about patient safety, well being and best outcomes. Is the clinic you go to for treatments, up to the recommended standard so that they will keep you safe and be able to manage any adverse event? The Director of Investigations of NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, Tony Kofkin, says that if they are investigating a complaint they will check whether a practice is meeting all the standards. Imagine, if you were building a house and the builder didn’t follow the standards for the material they used and you had asbestos, leaky pipes and dangerously thin glass. How would you feel?

It is worth asking yourself, when you are planning to visit a place for these treatments, whether it is a place with qualified staff offering quality treatments. If a place is going to a charge half the price of other clinics, ask yourself how that works? Are they skimping on product quality? Staff training? Quality of equipment?

Doctor Mary Dingley, a spokesperson for the Cosmetic Physicians Association from Brisbane, says “Our members are repeatedly called on to perform fix ups for “botched” treatments by poorly trained people, often working out of beauty clinics. Cases have included severe burns, facial disfigurement and misdiagnosed skin disorders, and melanomas.”

Three women appeared on Sevens Today Tonight in September complaining of excruciating pain, faces swollen and inflamed for weeks, following a laser treatment at a Victorian beauty salon. A plastic surgeon one of the ladies consulted afterwards, said she had third degree burns.  Professor Mark Ashton, president of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons warned, “If you’re using a class 4 laser such as  Erbium or CO2, and you don’t have training, you can cause a lot of damage and create a lot of scarring very quickly indeed.”

There are professional bodies where you can check the credentials of providers of treatment. These include Australasian College of Aesthetic Medicine, and the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia.  So, at the end of the day, for the consumer, it can be confusing, but with a little online investigation, asking questions, and remembering that you most often get what you pay for, you will be able to enjoy safe effective cosmetic medicine treatments.