Why society needs to stop judging those who have aesthetic treatments
“We are NOT changing people’s faces.” Despite the increasing societal drive towards body positivity and inclusivity, why do patients still have concerns about being judged or stigmatised for opting for cosmetic injectables? Many worry how their peers or partners will react, and if they will be accused of being vain. As aesthetic clinicians, it is our job to educate patients that the goal with aesthetic medicine (done well) is not to completely transform their appearance, but to use subtle adjustments to regain their look and renew their self-confidence.
In this blog, Dr Tim Pearce extracts some of the key points from an hour-long podcast with Nurse Kevin Bachar, owner of Bachar Beauty in Southern California, USA. He was the winner of our recent podcast competition to suggest a topic to join Dr Tim to discuss. They chatted about the stigmas surrounding aesthetics, why people judge and feel judged by their peers for having injectable treatments and worry that aesthetic medicine is about changing faces rather than making you look the best version of yourself.
There is much more that we could not squeeze into this one blog. You can listen to the whole Chew the Fatpad podcast on ‘We’re NOT changing people’s faces’ – Why society needs to stop judging those who get aesthetic treatments.
Do you feel anxious about causing complications? Many clinicians feel so overwhelmed with the thought of causing a vascular occlusion that it stops them growing their aesthetics business. Dr Tim is currently hosting a webinar series to help you overcome your fear of complications so that you can uplevel your knowledge and increase your CPD-certified learning to build a successful aesthetics business. Sign up here >>
What are the main factors that prevent patients from having aesthetic treatments?
Nurse Kevin noted that we all have a reason for getting aesthetic treatments – as a preventative or for anti-ageing, to regain confidence, or to address emotional or physical pain after traumatic or stressful life events that leave markers on our appearance – but social media and society present a very vain and one-sided aspect of the aesthetic industry about why people get treatments. Many of our patients seek aesthetic treatments as a way to look and feel like themselves again, not because they are vain.
Dr Tim agreed and emphasised the need to understand your patients’ motivations for seeking treatment so you can alleviate any fears they may harbour.
Talking about fears and stigmas, Nurse Kevin explained an interesting observation he sees in his clinic. He grew up and lived in Southern California during the rise of Botox®, twenty plus years ago. He noted that if you look at the dynamics of the aesthetic industry now and the demographic or generation that is specifically looking into aesthetic treatment, it is the millennial population. This demographic are the ones who during their early teens and formative years as young adults went through Y2K, the rise of Botox, social media and reality television, and the influence of celebrities like the Housewives or the Kardashians. He believes that this has caused a lot of them to be hesitant about having aesthetic treatments for the first time because their perceptions are deeply rooted in what they experienced growing up when cosmetic procedures were surrounded by stories about botched outcomes, or results that left people altered beyond their normal appearance. Nurse Kevin explained that he regularly disrupts these fears with this patient cohort and reassures them that aesthetic clinicians have learnt a lot more in the last twenty years. It is about patient education.
Social media can a force for good in educating patients and creating an environment where clinicians can educate the public, but Nurse Kevin pointed out that it can have a contrasting effect by amplifying the bad side of the specialty. Patients may come to you and show pictures of their friend or a celebrity on Instagram who has an undesirable result or posts they have seen where someone is telling others not to get a treatment because it will cause an undesirable result. This can influence, sometimes incorrectly, how patients understand the risks and benefits of cosmetic injectables. Dr Tim concurred and added that a positive with social media, and the rise in discussion surrounding aesthetic complications, is the positive effect is has had on improvements in best practice and on understanding complications prevention and management amongst aesthetic clinicians – everyone has had to upgrade their learning and training programmes.
As well as educating his patients and dispelling some of the preconceptions or myths they may have around aesthetic treatments and how they work, Nurse Kevin noted that it is vital to find out what has brought the patient into his clinic. He explained that many will simply trust your expertise as an aesthetic clinician and wait to hear what you will do. However, he does not want to tell them what he thinks they need to get ‘done’; he wants to hear what within their day-to-day life has led them to this point, what do they see that bothers them. Listen and understand why they are coming to you and do not use your expertise against them to highlight things they had not considered because this can be demoralising. Dr Tim was in one hundred percent agreement. He concluded that this does not mean that you do not get an opportunity to talk about those other areas where you may recommend treatment, but you do it in a way that is in alignment with what the patient wants.
The influence of partners on patients seeking aesthetic treatments
Dr Tim explained the dynamic of the three-person-consultation. Sometimes they are not even in the room with the patient, but it is the dynamic of someone else influencing the individual which can sometimes be helpful but can also make things worse. He identified three common categories of partners in the context of aesthetic treatments.
Firstly, there are partners who may not fully understand the treatment or the reasons why the patient wants it, but they support it for the sake of their loved one’s happiness. This neutral position creates a harmonious atmosphere. Secondly, there are partners who bring the patient in for treatment as if they are fixing a problem with a broken car. They are exhibiting a controlling attitude, and this is the worst to manage. And, lastly, and probably the most common, there are partners who are against the treatment, but have no control over the desires of the patient, their partner, but who may attempt to sabotage it. A lot of men, for example, are afraid that their wives or partners will change, and they want to stop that from happening.
Understanding these categories can help aesthetic clinicians to prepare their patients for any potential resistance or negative partner reactions once they get home and confront them with the change.
Nurse Kevin noted that he has also encountered many partners or friends who try to influence the treatment that a patient receives, or if they have treatment at all. He referred to a tried-and-true statement or mantra that he holds – “when you look better, you feel better; when you feel better, you show up better”. He explained that he truly believes that whether it is having an aesthetic treatment, getting your hair or nails done, or buying a new outfit that makes you feel confident, it allows you to show better in your relationships, friendships, your work environment, or your hobbies. His approach is to shift that perspective for the partner to explain that having the treatment will make the patient feel whole again, feel beautiful, feel more confident, and ask them to support that, even if they do not agree with the method for reaching the result, they must understand how it will help their spouse or partner.
How to interact well with patients to reduce their fears
On of the most difficult things for Nurse Kevin to learn and understand as an aesthetic clinician, which really shifted his perspective, was why he was really performing treatments and how to navigate the very personal and vulnerable conversations that you have with your patients who, for whatever reason, are coming to you to get treatment.
He learnt to really understand them as people, and what will make them confident. You cannot teach that, like you can all the practical aspects of delivering injectables or learning anatomy. It just happens, organically and naturally through more and more consultations and interactions.
Dr Tim concluded that the driving force for a lot of the procedures we perform in aesthetic medicine is people wanting to connect better with others. To achieve that, they need to rid themselves of whatever they perceive is creating the internal friction in their head – an insecurity, a doubt, something that is occupying their mind and preventing them from connecting with others. You should get to the bottom of that during the consultation.
Once they have beaten the struggle with the internal friction, they find themselves in a positive state and cannot wait to connect with as many people as possible, to build relationships, to collaborate. This is a much healthier approach for why patients are choosing to have aesthetic treatments, their behaviour changes positively after having treatment, and we are empowering them to be stronger.
Throughout the podcast, Nurse Kevin emphasised the importance of engaging in open and honest conversations with your patients, addressing their insecurities, and understanding their motivations for seeking treatment. By fostering a safe and non-judgmental environment, aesthetic clinicians can help patients feel confident and empowered throughout their aesthetic journey.
Read more from Dr Tim:
- How to justify your decision to treat a patient with a medical aesthetic intervention and brush up on your skills
- Consultations: how to inform patients about side effects and risks.
The two of them discussed so much more in this podcast, so why not listen to Dr Tim’s Chew The Fatpad podcast with Nurse Kevin Bachar. You can find Dr Tim Pearce on Instagram or follow Bachar Beauty on Instagram.
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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.
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