Should people really be trawling social media platforms and forums to gain ‘knowledge’ to practice in medical aesthetics?
One of the biggest topics of discussion within the aesthetic industry is training. This is both in terms of the standards of training courses currently available, and the depth of skills and knowledge acquired by individuals before they embark on the provision of aesthetic treatments, particularly cosmetic injectables, to the paying public. With little regulation on just who can and cannot provide these treatments and no standard ‘qualification’, it seems to leave the door open to just about anyone to ‘take a stab at it’ for want of a better phrase!
Yet a more worrying trend could be the avoidance of training courses entirely; I mean who needs training in medical aesthetics when you can learn it all from aesthetic themed forums such as the many on the business networking site Linkedin?
Dr. Patrick Treacy, a well known Irish Cosmetic Doctor and Consulting Room Advisor who practices at The Ailesbury Clinic in Dublin is particularly troubled by this development.
“Surely, normal US/EC medical regulations extending to aesthetic qualifications and experience should also relate to these LinkedIn forums?
I am totally fed up reading nonsense discussions such as: ‘I injected the frontalis and the right eyebrow went up, does anybody know how to lower an elevated brow?’ or ‘can you put Botox in the lower face, if so please tell me’.
This is just reducing aesthetic medicine to the level of 'cowboys' and allowing them a forum to chat to each other”; he told us.
Of course, anyone can set up a LinkedIn group and play gate keeper with who they allow into their newly created forum, deciding whether or not to vet medical qualifications for a group dedicated to medical aesthetics. It’s no surprise though that Doctors, like Dr. Treacy ask the simple question of why can’t these people be kicked off a forum so we can allow the level of discussion to move academically upwards?
This is a growing problem. One forum, dedicated to discussing all things Botox was set up in March 2009, not by the brand owner but by the well meaning owner of a clinic in California. The group now has almost seven thousand members and there appears to be no vetting in place for joining. Whilst many medical practitioners from around the globe use the forum to discuss mutual interests and anecdotal findings with their peers, it is no surprise that this is also the haunt of the non-medics and quasi medical people who have jumped on the Botox band wagon and are looking for quick answers.
Dr. Treacy continues: “I want to single out people who ask questions without any sense of embarrassment, that show they have absolutely no knowledge of basic facial anatomy or frankly of what they are even doing.
They are here (on the LinkedIn forum) freely and unashamedly gleaning knowledge from experts to go and then practice on their unsuspecting patients. They are the same type of people who look at YouTube videos to learn how to inject or do laser skin resurfacing; people, including doctors have told me that they learned to do Botox and fractional laser treatments that way from some of my own videos!”
But Dr. Treacy is not alone in his concerns; on questioning others about this trend it became clear that many medical professionals are also worried about this practice.
One Registered Nurse from Canada said; “I completely agree with the concerns. I am a Registered Nurse injector currently pursuing my Nurse Practitioner to increase my autonomy. I am disturbed by some of the comments/questions on this forum. As has been said, sharing experiences amongst experienced medical professionals is one thing, but trolling these sites to LEARN basic injection techniques is dangerous and foolhardy.”
The discussion about this worrying development gathered nearly forty replies from around the world, ALL agreeing with Dr. Treacy, including Steven Bengelsdorf, MD, FACS a cosmetic surgeon in Nashville who precisely detailed the other concerns that this raises.
He said; “I completely agree with your comments and respect you greatly for putting them forth in this forum. The practice of medicine and surgery by untrained and unlicensed individuals is a criminal act in the United States. I often ask myself, however, "where are these people getting their Botox from?". Often times, it is from a licensed physician with prescriptive authority who will ‘delegate’ injections without any supervision whatsoever. These physicians sometimes have experience injecting, sometimes do not. The ‘questions’ being posted on this forum are indicative of the greater problem, akin to people being given a gun and told to shoot without any training. But I think it is important to hold the PHYSICIANS that are enabling this to happen accountable as well. If you buy your 14 year old a car and give him the key without a license or any driving lessons, and he injures someone, YOU are accountable. The same should follow for any medical or surgical procedures.”
We have all embraced the wider social community, both on personal and professional levels. Sharing and communicating in this way is a seen as a success for the global village, yet there will always be those who don’t use things how others feel that they were intended.
At the heart of all of this is the regulation of the medical aesthetic industry, both in the UK and across the world. If the powers that be can stop the unqualified and inexperienced cowboys and the Johnny-come-latelies then this type of forum trolling may become a thing of the past; I don’t suppose any of us will be holding our breath though.