What does the government’s ‘Clued up on cosmetic procedures’ campaign mean for aesthetic practitioners?

With the recent launch of the ‘Clued up on cosmetic procedures’ campaign, the Department of Health and Social Care is looking to raise awareness and understanding of cosmetic procedures by educating people about the risks and questions they should ask, so that prospective patients have all the information they need before they make any decisions about undergoing treatment. The government hopes the NHS website, ‘Before you have a cosmetic procedure’ will become the top web destination for people considering cosmetic procedures. The campaign message is simple – get clued up. But what does it mean for cosmetic practitioners?

The government’s decision to raise the profile and stakes on mental health, body dysmorphia and wellbeing in the cosmetic industry offers opportunities for cosmetic practitioners.

  1. Audit yourself against the government’s top tips checklist

As a cosmetic practitioner, it is crucial that you are aware of the guidance being provided to would-be patients. This will enable you to make sure that you are in fact operating in accordance with best practice as advised by the government.

The government is providing the following checklist to prospective patients:

  • Choose a reputable, safe and qualified practitioner who is trained in the procedure you are undertaking
  • Speak to a professional about the outcomes you can expect from a cosmetic procedure, signs of complications and procedure for aftercare before you commit and consent to proceed with the treatment
  • Make sure you have a pre-consultation with the same practitioner that will be performing the procedure and are given information to take away with you
  • Make sure that you know how to obtain after care advice and support if things go wrong
  • Check out the premises – are basic hygiene principles like hand washing and sterile equipment evident?
  • Don’t pay for procedures until you have had a consultation to check it is suitable and will meet your expectations
  • Avoid participating in group treatments, or events involving alcohol
  • Don’t be pressured into spontaneously agreeing to additional treatments you hadn’t considered before arriving at the clinic
  • Take time to consider your treatment options and do not make hasty decisions to commence treatment until you are sure that it is right for you
  • Remember you can walk always if you’re not completely comfortable

Ask yourself whether there are any areas featured on this checklist that you could improve upon, for example your training, consenting and consultation process or after care advice and support. You can even share the Department of Health’s handy ‘cut out and keep’ top tips infographic with your patients as a useful visual reminder of what they need to look out for.

  1. Get involved with the social media campaign #CluedUpOnCosmeticProcedures

As a practitioner, the government’s campaign offers an opportunity for you to get involved by spreading the word on social media and through your other communications channels, such as your website or newsletter. By aligning yourself with their campaign, you will not only be helping to raise standards in the industry, but also positioning yourself as a responsible practitioner when it comes to your social media following.

Make sure you use the hashtags #CluedUpOnCosmeticProcedures in your posts to raise awareness of the campaign and why you think it is important. You can also like, share, comment and retweet other posts. The government is working with Heat, Grazia and Closer magazines and you can search #CluedUpOnCosmeticProcedures to find posts and partner content to share.

  1. Be part of the solution when it comes to marketing and patient selection

As an aesthetic practitioner, it is vital that you understand the issues the industry is facing, to ensure that you are part of the solution. The ‘Clued up on cosmetic procedures’ campaign comes amid a rise in demand for procedures including botulinum toxin and dermal fillers, and a growth in unregulated companies offering cheap services.

A recent poll by Deltapoll for the BBC found that as many as two thirds of women have had or are considering an aesthetic treatment. The increasing affordability of cosmetic procedures, celebrity endorsement and the growth of social media have all contributed to this rise in demand. However, there are significant concerns about the number of women experiencing serious side effects, as well as some providers using aggressive marketing techniques such as cut-price deals and prime time advertising, to compete.

The effect on mental health is also a concern. Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price said: “Many people don’t think fully about the consequences – both physical and mental – of having a cosmetic procedure. These are serious treatments, and you should think carefully before you leap in. I’m particularly worried about people seeking treatments which are unsuitable for them, or who are not prepared for the mental health impact of an aesthetic change.”

Marketing in aesthetics

It is up to individual aesthetic practitioners to ensure that they are not using aggressive marketing techniques or pressurising patients into making decisions quickly, for example by using time-limited special offers. Ensure that you take care to educate patients, making them aware of any risks and offering a ‘cooling off’ period between consultation and treatment. Our guide, ‘Marketing for aesthetic practitioners’ offers more advice on this topic. Always put patient safety first and ensure that you are complying with the recommended guidelines. In this way you will be actively helping to improve standards in the aesthetic industry, as well as differentiating yourself from less scrupulous practitioners.

Patient selection

Aesthetic practitioners need to ensure careful patient selection to identify patients who may be not be ‘right’ for the treatment they are seeking. Find out more in our guide, ‘How important is patient selection’. The government’s focus on the effect of cosmetic treatments on mental health reflects the fact that, for some patients, cosmetic treatments may be detrimental. For example, identifying a patient who may be suffering with body dysmorphic disorder is important, because there is evidence to show that cosmetic interventions may actually make the condition worse. Our articles on body dysmorphic disorder in aesthetics and eating disorders are useful reading on these topics.

  1. Register with a body overseen by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA)

The ‘Clued up on cosmetic procedures’ campaign advises prospective patients to check that practitioners are qualified and, of course, have appropriate cosmetic insurance. They are also urged to use the Professional Standards Authority’s (PSA’s) Check a Practitioner service to find out whether a practitioner belongs to a reputable accredited register, as this demonstrates a commitment to additional training.

The PSA’s accredited registers in this area are JCCP and Save Face. By joining one of the PSA registers you will not only be demonstrating your commitment to customer safety, but also stand to gain commercially as prospective patients will increasingly be consulting the PSAs registers to identify reputable practitioners.

At Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance we are working closely alongside the JCCP to drive up standards across the aesthetics industry. The primary aim of the JCCP is to provide a mechanism to enable the public to be more informed about the risks associated with non-surgical and hair restoration treatments and to clearly identify safe and appropriately trained practitioners who practise in these areas of specialist treatment. Go to www.jccp.org.uk for more information on the JCCP, or for general enquiries on the JCCP email admin@jccp.org.uk

You can find the full ‘Clued up on cosmetic procedures’ communications toolkit on the JCCP website here.

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