Aesthetic medicine is a rapidly growing field with increasing numbers of practitioners offering an increasing number of treatments and a range of new treatments and products each year. Despite this, it is still not recognised as a medical discipline in its own right and therefore no central regulations are in place. Although complications in aesthetic medicine are rare and usually not severe, it is important they are dealt with in a consistent and evidence based manner.
Following the British Association of Cosmetic Nurses workshop on 17th September 2011 which focused on complications in aesthetic practice, it was decided that a separate group would be set-up to produce expert guidance on the diagnosis and management of complications in aesthetic medicine. The Aesthetic Complications Expert Group recommends that standardised, high quality training is needed along with continuing professional development and that patient safety has to be paramount. It is for this reason the group has concentrated on producing guidelines for dealing with risks and complications. It is the expectation that these guidelines will be welcomed within the industry by both practitioners and suppliers and become adopted nationally. The remit of the Aesthetic Complications Expert Group is to produce guidelines based on evidence based medicine, best practice, consensus from experts within the industry and to regularly review these guidelines as new evidence and treatments become apparent.
Guidelines based on evidence
The Aesthetic Complications Expert Group is not for profit, working with and on behalf of all relevant practitioners (doctors, dentists and nurses). Once a guideline has been produced and reviewed by the ACE Group it is then circulated to a wider Consensus Group of experts within aesthetic practice for further critical appraisal. When a guideline has been approved it will be freely available for practitioners. Guidelines will be circulated in appropriate aesthetic journals and via the Aesthetic Complications Expert Group website. Practitioners may wish to register with this site and download guidelines, have access to expert advice and will be able to report complications, however this is not a substitute for the normal reporting process which may include the MHRA, manufacturers, professional bodies and insurers.
Although voluntary, it is hoped that reporting of complications will be welcomed within the industry to promote best practice, provide help and support to practitioners and to improve data available on complications rates. Statistics on complications shall also be freely available in an anonymised format. However, where practice is deemed to be negligent, it will need to be referred to the appropriate professional body as outlined in Good Medical Practice. Data will also be invaluable to other stakeholders to see where greater education, training and support is required. The Aesthetic Complications Expert Group will also work with all stakeholders including pharmaceutical companies, insurers, professional associations, national bodies and patient groups.
Greater regulation in the aesthetic market
The Aesthetic Complications Expert Group will make recommendation on stock items that should be held in the event of a complication occurring. It is realised that not all practitioners will have easy access to certain drugs required in the management of complications and will host a database of clinics where these items may be obtained in an appropriate manner.
Greater regulation in the aesthetic market is long overdue and it is hoped that producing nationally recognised guidelines in the management of complications will help raise standards within the industry and to ensure early diagnosis, appropriate management and so improve outcomes for patients who suffer complications.
Dr Martyn King
Chair of the Aesthetic Complications Expert Group