While there is always the risk vs reward factor to consider with any procedure, the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia (CPCA) has outlined some important guidelines for anyone considering a cosmetic procedure to ensure they receive the best possible treatment; not only in terms of results, but also health and safety.
While the arguments for and against cosmetic procedures could take up an entire chapter in a book, according to president of the CPCA Dr Douglas Grose the first question to ask yourself is - will the procedure give the desired outcome every time and what are the risks if there are problems? Can all problems be corrected?
According to Dr Mary Dingley, board member of the CPCA, the key is to "know yourself”: “Ask yourself, what is it that concerns me? Does everyone think I look tired all the time, even though I’ve slept well? Do I have loads of sun damage that is now catching up with me – and have I changed my sun habits so that it’s not going to be worse after treatment? Is the issue that I am so concerned with just visible to me? Can I afford the downtime and how much, if I can? Can I afford it financially and is it within my budget?”
As with any procedure, there is always an associated risk. "Things can go wrong even in the best of hands, but the way to try and minimise those risks, is to go to a reputable clinic, with doctors who are either conducting or supervising all treatments on site and have the ability to manage complications should they ever occur," says Dr Dingley.
However, it's also important to manage expectations as the procedure may not deliver the desired result and some cases, the patient may even end up worse off.
"What you should avoid are techniques which are relatively unproven. New technology and procedures are not necessarily better, they may be just good marketing tools because they are 'new'. I would recommend avoiding any practice where you feel even slightly pressured into having the procedure. Qualifications are not always necessarily the best guide either. Intense marketing techniques and offers of payment plans should also sound loud alarm bells," cautions Dr Grose.
The CPCA has released the following cosmetic procedure checklist for anyone considering a cosmetic procedure to evaluate:
- Take time to evaluate your motivation and clearly identify your concern.
- Try to find someone you know, who has had the procedure, to give a first hand account. Then find out which doctor performed the treatment.
- Do some online research but be wary of the oversell of benefits of any procedure
- Make an appointment with the doctor at a time when you’re not rushed. Arrive on time, observe the clinic – is it clean, well structured and well run? It's important to take into account the cleanliness and presentation of the practice, as it can be an indication of the overall level of care provided.
- During the consult, determine whether you have rapport with the treating doctor. It's important that you feel they understand your issue, and ask them to repeat your concern as well as how it can be improved. Also, it's important to ensure that the procedure has been explained clearly and in detail.
- Make sure you find out what impact the procedure will have on your lifestyle and assess if you can manage that. Ensure costings have been explained. If something is temporary, find out how long will it last and when it may need repeating.
- Some relatively minor procedures, such as injectables or removing skin tags, may be able to be done during the first consultation, as long as you are happy with everything. However, remember there is never any rush and you can always take your time to think about it.
- For more major procedures, always go home and think about your decision.
- If you do decide to proceed with the treatment, make sure you allow for any downtime that may result from the procedure.
- Written information should be given to you about your proposed procedure, as well as post-procedure to guide you through any recovery phase and to advise what to do to contact the doctor should you have any queries.
- Plan on having at least two opinions before proceeding with any treatment. Any consultation should be face to face, not over Skype with a remote doctor unless you live in a remote rural area.