September 2, 2021

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Have you had a family member complain about their relative having aesthetic treatment that they felt was inappropriate? 

It’s not unusual for friends and family to have strong negative opinions about injectable treatments such as BOTOX®, dermal fillers or lip enhancement – especially if their feelings about non-surgical treatments are based on principles or media hype rather than personal experience.

Sometimes, they can be quite angry when their loved one goes against their wishes and has a procedure done and in such cases, it’s not uncommon for them to blame the practitioner. Their anger is simply redirected at the injector who carried out the treatment and they complain or post bad reviews.

They may even accuse the aesthetic practitioner of being unethical by carrying out such treatments, especially if the patient is quite young (i.e. early 2os, as you should never treat anyone under 18 at all).

Patient Confidentiality

It can be hurtful to be accused of bad practice.

Assuming you have operated in accordance with all guidelines, your first instinct may be defensive.

However, before you respond, it’s important to remember that healthcare professionals cannot divulge any personal information about their patients in this situation. You should not discuss the details of any client or treatment with another party; even to relatives and even in the face of a complaint.

This makes it very difficult!

What can you do when a relative is complaining?

Consider what you could say to an angry mother or father complaining that you should not have treated their 24-year-old daughter.

They believe she is perfect and didn’t need anything done. They believe the only reason you could have had to agree to the treatment is that you are money grabbing and you don’t care about her. Ouch!

You heard a very different side of the story from their sensible daughter who had an objectively small top lip that was knocking her confidence when smiling. A little lip filler for imbalanced lips is a very different thing from overinflated pouts as seen in the magazines.

But you can’t tell them any of this…

How do you respond to relatives’ complaints?

Dr Tim Pearce MBChB BSc (Hons) MRCGP has worked in aesthetics for many years, carrying out thousands of treatments. He founded his eLearning aesthetics concept in 2016, in order to provide readily accessible BOTOX® and dermal filler online courses for fellow Medical Aesthetics practitioners.

Tim has kindly suggested a few potential responses that you could give to reassure relatives and hopefully help them reconsider their point of view.

Tim summarises:

“In this reply, you can be both reassuring and able to explain your decision without giving away any details of the patient.”

Of course, you can adapt this reply and pick/choose the relevant sections, according to the individual circumstances and details of the complaint.

Explain patient confidentiality

“Due to patient confidentiality I cannot discuss any particular case with you, but I can give you general information and reassurance about how medical aesthetics is delivered by healthcare professionals like myself.”

Treatments in patients’ best interests

“As a medical professional we wouldn’t treat anyone unless the person and I agreed it was in their best interests. We obviously only treat adults and all treatments are done with reversible dermal fillers with the considered and informed consent of the person attending.

“I assess their ability to make a decision independently and their mental state and their reasons for attending.

“I explain the likely benefit to them from an aesthetic point of view- there is a science of beauty that looks at proportion and detail of the face and all my treatments are bounded by these aesthetic rules.”

Treating younger patients

“The psychology of younger people is sometimes different to older people, as it is a time when looking and feeling as attractive and as confident as possible opens up opportunities which can improve well-being in very many ways.

“It is different to ‘fixing a problem’. It is more about maximising beauty potential, something we think is reasonable to do when you are young and a lot of your life is built on the opportunities you can take when you are young.”

Clinicians’ duty to the patient

“I understand you may see things very differently but I hope you understand that any clinician must primarily take their patient’s point of view as the main reason to treat.

“Please be assured it is always done in a careful and considered way.”

Free business resources

Dr Tim Pearce supplies a range of free resources to help aesthetics practitioners improve their knowledge and skills. Topics include key business concepts and documents, as well as resources that are related to practice.

All free resources


Dr Tim Pearce eLearning

Dr Tim Pearce MBChB BSc (Hons) MRCGP founded his eLearning concept in 2016 in order to provide readily accessible BOTOX® and dermal filler online courses for fellow Medical Aesthetics practitioners. His objective was to raise standards within the industry – a principle which remains just as relevant today.

Our exclusive video-led courses are designed to build confidence, knowledge and technique at every stage, working from foundation level to advanced treatments and management of complications.

Thousands of delegates have benefited from the courses and we’re highly rated on Trustpilot. For more information or to discuss which course is right for you, please get in touch with our friendly team.

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