Attitudes Towards Cosmetic Procedures: An Interview With Amish Patel
When are you old enough to make an informed decision about altering your appearance? This is a question we asked the public as part of our most recent survey, to get a better understanding of how people feel about cosmetic surgery and ‘tweakments’.
With the Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act set to make it illegal to administer filler and botox injections to anyone under the age of 18, we caught up with aesthetic artist and founder of the award-winning Intrigue Cosmetic Clinic, Amish Patel, to understand his views on the morality of treating minors and his experience of changing attitudes towards cosmetic procedures.
A long-standing member of Save Face, Amish has achieved an ‘excellence’ rating for his approach to non-invasive procedures and client care. He shared with us what he believes to be some of the most pressing issues within the beauty industry and the measures clinics should have in place to protect patients.
Do you think cosmetic procedures are becoming more commonplace? If so, why do you think this might be?
Yes, cosmetic procedures are becoming more commonplace, but there is still a lot to be done in terms of cleaning up our industry.
The greater the demand for cosmetic procedures, the increased need for supply, and more than ever the term 'buyer beware’ is needed in this largely unregulated sector.
A major reason for non-invasive procedures becoming more popular is that celebrities are becoming more open about the work they have had done. In the past, conversations would have centred around 'have they or haven't they had work', this has now been replaced with speculation about 'where did they get their work done', and a conversation about face fillers.
In your opinion, do you think that young people are more interested in cosmetic procedures than they have been in the past? Are there any obvious reasons for this?
We have always been approached by young people, but we have noticed an increase over the past couple of years. Even during the lockdown, we were getting enquiries from men and women as young as 18 years old. As a professional and also as a father, I find this particularly worrying.
For a generation of young people who have grown up with celebrities, YouTubers and social media, these powerful drivers are moulding their opinions about themselves and the world around them.
Do you think social media is having an impact on how people view cosmetic procedures? If so, how do you think it is changing people's perceptions?
Yes absolutely, social media has definitely had an impact on the way young people view cosmetic procedures. On a positive note, social media can be a great discovery tool for people to explore the world around them.
With that said, we have seen many younger clients, in their twenties and thirties, referencing images they have seen online. Many of these images present an unrealistic expectation of what can be achieved with non-cosmetic procedures.
The surge in the popularity of 'selfie apps' is another issue. While our client's happiness is always a priority, we are not afraid to turn someone away if we feel there may be a mental health issue, or if we think that the look that they desire is unrealistic or detrimental to their looks.
From a moralistic point of view, we have a strict rule in place that we will not treat anyone 18 years or under. However, this doesn't stop us from getting weekly enquiries from this age group, who no doubt will eventually find a practitioner who will do the treatment.
Social media is making non-surgical treatments more acceptable as a conversation - which on the one hand can only be a good thing. With that said, regularly seeing people with exaggerated lips or overly plump cheeks could be viewed as 'normalising’ this trend.
Over the past six months, it has been good to see more and more influencers cropping up championing a more natural look. Our clients come to us because they want to look refreshed and natural, and want people to comment on how good they look, not ask where they get their face filler done.
Have you seen a change in the types of cosmetic procedures people are enquiring about? Why do you think this is?
After the first lockdown, we saw a bigger uptake in anti-wrinkle injections than we have ever seen in the past. Our clients cited the 'Zoom effect' as a strong driver, seeing themselves on video calls has acted as a driver to get fit and use the time constructively.
As we have emerged from lockdown, this treatment is still popular but other subtle treatments, such as jawline fillers for men and cheek and lip fillers for women are also proving to be popular.
In addition to the increased use of video calls, I think people have become more willing to 'live life for today', and make the most of each day, rather than planning for the future and what procedures they might want in an ideal world.
For those who are considering getting a non-invasive procedure - what kind of questions would you recommend that they ask a potential practitioner beforehand?
There are a few really key questions I would recommend that people have ready to ask practitioners at their initial consultation. Having these questions ready can make sure you are as prepared as possible. These would include:
What are your qualifications?
This is important as it is essential that you choose a prescribing medical professional. Should the worst happen and there be complications, the ability to write a prescription and hold emergency medicines in stock is invaluable. Also, ask to see what training in aesthetics the practitioner has completed.
Can I see your before and after images?
Ask to see the practitioner's own work and case studies. This will give you an idea if they can create a look that is personalised to you. For example, do they specialise in a natural look or favour an overdone aesthetic?
Personally, I would recommend that if you see lots of examples of ‘overdone’ faces, you should be ready to walk away. It is a great indicator that this person is not interested in telling a client when to stop.
How many times have you carried out the treatment, and have you had any complications?
This will indicate their level of experience. If they skirt around the issue or don't sound confident, don't put yourself at risk.
What brand of filler do you use and why?
Do some research on the filler company after you have spoken to the aesthetics practitioner. How long has it been established? Does it have lots of reported side effects? How expensive is the product? Product choice is crucial in preventing long-term complications and ensuring stunning results that last a reasonable amount of time.
And finally, always ask for a consultation first.
If you haven't had treatment before, never be rushed into having a procedure. Always request a consultation, and then take some time to decide. Maybe meet a few practitioners and see if they offer a similar treatment plan. Any good practitioner will ensure that you are fully informed and comfortable to proceed, and this should include a 'cooling off' period to decide if you want the procedure proposed.
Would you be able to share some of the safeguarding measures you have in place to help ensure your patients are prepared for both the immediate and long-term impact of cosmetic procedures?
Our clinic's protocol is to go through a very detailed and thorough consultation in the first instance so patients can make an informed choice.
Clients are encouraged to take time to absorb the information, to take time to think over the proposed treatment and come back to us with further questions. Only then, once they are fully satisfied, will our team look to book them in for treatment.
We carry out a body dysmorphia assessment with every client to ensure that there are no underlying mental health issues affecting their decision making. I will make a final judgement call at management level to ensure that the matter is dealt with sensitively and that the individual is offered helpful resources should we find that they are open to these for consideration.
We send out information leaflets on treatments and copies of consent forms to all clients before all appointments and encourage patients to read the information provided.
We share 'before and after' images of our own clinic work with clients so that they can view past work and make an informed decision on their own treatment journey.
If you could give one piece of advice to young people interested in getting a cosmetic procedure, what would it be?
My advice would be to think about the risks before the results. Even non-surgical procedures aren't without risk. Of course, choosing an experienced aesthetic practitioner with medical training will minimise these risks, but it is still a procedure.
If you are 18 years or under, then wait a few years. What you want now won't be what you will want when you're in your twenties, and if it is, then you will know exactly what you want, the cost, the risks and also who to approach to do the desired treatment.
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