So you’re thinking about booking in for some treatment. Whether it be acne treatment, hair removal, laser tattoo removal, botox, fillers, or anything else, it’s important to do your research and to know what you’re getting yourself into, so you can be sure of booking safe treatment.
Any laser treatments on the skin, wrinkle reduction treatments such as injections and skin surface treatments such as chemical peels are not considered medical procedures, therefore you don’t need to be a qualified doctor to carry out the procedure. And if you’re not a doctor, you’re not regulated in order to adhere to their strict care and safety standards.
This has meant that over recent years we’ve seen a sharp rise in unregulated practitioners offering treatments that they’re not necessarily qualified or skilled enough to carry out, resulting in many people receiving ineffective or, worse, unsafe treatment.
To make sure you get the right treatment for you, and that it’s treatment you can trust, we’ve put together a quick guide to booking safe treatment, from the initial interest stage, through to after you’ve had it done. By following our pointers and going through these resources you can be confident of getting the procedure you want, at the right clinic, with the right practitioner, and that it’s going to be safe and effective.
The first stage of ensuring you get safe and effective treatment is to do your research. The internet provides a way of quickly researching any kind of treatment you can think of, and lets you compare practices and look at reviews. Look into the types of treatment you’re thinking of, check if your skin or body type is appropriate for the treatment, whether the treatment process can fit in with your lifestyle, and whether the investment is worth it.
Check if they’re qualified
Probably the most important stage of the research part is making sure that the practitioner who is going to carry out the treatment is properly qualified to do it. There are many counterfeit products (such as Botox and Dermal Fillers) and substandard equipments readily available online for sale nowadays by anyone who chooses to, making it more important than ever to make sure you’re getting treatment carried out by a qualified doctor, plastic surgeon or aesthetic practitioner. By going to a reputable and regulated clinic, ensures that these worries are removed. Further, always check the GMC, GDC or NMC registrations are up to date for the practitioner.
For surgical procedures, check their CQC registration or equivalent
If you’re having surgical procedures done like plastic surgery, it’s extremely important to check their CQC (Care Quality Commission) certification, or regional equivalent. The CQC is the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England and is there to make sure you are getting safe treatment and appropriate care. It’s important to note that many aesthetic treatments don’t fall under CQC regulation, such as all skin and laser treatments, wrinkle reduction injections, chemical peels etc.
Questions to ask
Have you done this procedure before/how many times?
How long will the procedure take, and what does it involve?
Is there a recovery period after the treatment? If so, how long?
How effective is the treatment?
Are there any risks involved in getting this treatment?
Will I need to come back for another treatment or is it a one-off?
Are you insured? What would happen if something were to go wrong?
What are the total costs for the procedure, including any follow-up sessions or aftercare?
A full list of questions to ask and things to consider can be found here.
Meet the person who will carry out the treatment
Always ask, in your consultation, if they are the person who will administer your treatment. If not, ask to meet with the doctor/ nurse who will. We strongly recommend this as a good point of reference so that you can hear firsthand what is required and what you can expect, without the information being communicated through others.
As set out by the General Medical Council, your doctor or practitioner is obligated to listen to you and to discuss any questions or concerns you might have about the procedure, and you can always ask them to explain it again. The core requirement is that you have enough information about your procedure to be happy to give your consent to it. The doctor or practitioner must allow you ample time to reflect on both the pros and cons of the procedure and to give consent when you are ready to.
Right to change mind
As your doctor is required to explain to you, you have the right to change your might about the treatment at any stage, even if you’ve already decided to go ahead with it.
Your doctor must not prescribe injectable cosmetic medicines (such as Botox®, Dysport® or Vistabel®) by phone, video-link or online.
Considering the overall benefits to you
Even if you are sure you want a procedure, your doctor must reach their own view about whether this will be of overall benefit to you.
Ensure you have the right medicines
If there is any medication you should be taking after your procedure, or equipment you should be using, make sure you have this so that you can take care of yourself. Don’t hesitate to contact the clinic if you think you don’t have what you need.
Someone to contact
On that note, make sure you have the contact details of the clinic but also of someone involved in your treatment, whom you can contact after the procedure if you are worried or unsure about anything, or if there are any complications.
Your doctor or practitioner should tell you if you need any follow-up treatments or further consultations, and how soon you would need them. If possible, book them in when you leave the clinic so that you get it organised whilst it’s still fresh in the mind.
If you have an issue or concern about your doctor or your treatment, it’s usually quickest and easiest to settle it directly with them or with their organisation. Most clinics are happy to discuss and settle any complaints as they arise in an effort to protect their reputation.
Concerned about the practitioner or clinic?
If you suspect, however, that people are at risk when getting treatments with this doctor, practitioner or clinic, or if they have fallen short of the basic standards expected, see here General Medical Council: Patients’ Help
To see what is expected of every doctor offering cosmetic interventions, take a look at the GMC’s Guidance for Doctors Who Offer Cosmetic Interventions
If you’re living – or getting treatment done – in the UK, one of the best hubs for information you can trust is the General Medical Council’s page on Good Medical Practice, where you can see the advice issued to all practitioners offering these types of treatments, whether they’re qualified doctors or not. These are not enforced rules, so practitioners are not held to them by law, but they’re guidelines that all responsible clinics should follow. Don’t be afraid to check that they do.