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What is the difference between an Aesthetic Practitioner and a Medical Aesthetic Practitioner?

Another day and another headline about a botched filler procedure or ‘prescription only’ medication being dished out by ‘Aesthetics Practitioners’.

As a professionally qualified Medical Aesthetic Practitioner, I felt I should address this issue head-on, here on the blog.

A quick Google for anti-wrinkle treatments (Botox) or fillers and your screen will fill with hundreds, if not thousands of websites offering treatments.

Our Instagram and Facebook feeds are littered with bargain-basement offers which seem too good to be true. Well, take it from me - your hunch is correct, they are too good to be true and here is why…

Many of these ‘clinics’ (and I say ‘clinics’ with a splash of sarcasm) are owned and operated by Aesthetic Practitioners.

The problem? Well, firstly, a lack of insurance.

Did you know, in the UK there’s no obligation for an Aesthetic Practitioner to have insurance before treating their clients?

Hypothetically, this enables anybody to purchase filler and set up a clinic.

Speaking with my clients, I hear the same story over and over again:

“I went because she had 198 five star reviews on Facebook” or “There was an offer of buy one get one free”.


In essence, the difference between an ‘Aesthetic Practitioner’ and a ‘Medical Aesthetic Practitioner’ is accountability.

Medical Aesthetic Practitioners are qualified medical professionals and are registered with a

governing body. For example, I’m a registered adult nurse with four years’ experience working in aesthetics and a further three years working as an intensive care nurse.

As such, I am registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, in the same way, Doctors are registered with the General Medical Council and Dentists with the General Dental Council.

Designed to protect the public by ensuring professional standards are met, governing bodies have the ability to stop a practitioner practicing if their guidelines aren’t explicitly followed.

‘Aesthetic Practitioners’ on the other hand, have no accountability.

They are not registered with a governing body; many of them are uninsured, working under no supervision and are probably unaware of the risks associated with aesthetic procedures.

As a group, Medical Aesthetic Practitioners believe it’s irresponsible for a non-medically trained individual to perform any procedure which exposes a patient to risk.

Injectable treatments may be described as ‘non-surgical’, but they do involve a medical procedure with associated risks - risks which, if handled and understood correctly can be avoided and almost entirely removed.

Dermal fillers

Dermal fillers have become so common, people do not consider them any more dangerous than a haircut. Despite being trivialised by mainstream media, it’s important to remember a filler treatment involves an invasive procedure – it shouldn’t be considered a minor skin treatment.

Administering injections of any kind takes skill, but the administration of a dermal filler injection requires a far greater level of skill, understanding and experience.

The human face is like a road map of vital structures that only a university trained Medical Aesthetic Practitioner will be qualified to navigate.

Emergency response

Can you imagine how frightening it might be if a treatment went wrong and your practitioner was unable to rectify the problem?

A considered approach to an emergency in health care is crucial. Medically qualified practitioners understand the importance of emergency care and are able to calmly diagnose and address the cause of a problem.

Unfortunately, many aesthetic training courses available to the general public

do not address this. In the main, they fail to sufficiently teach anatomy, complication recognition or emergency management.

Over the years I’ve been faced with several emergency situations caused by local ‘aesthetic practitioners’ who went quiet or were unable to help after treatments went wrong.

Please note, I’m not trying to discredit the beauty industry. Far from it – it’s vital we work together and I have great respect for any beautician who understands the limits of their training.

I’m concerned about the risk they pose to a patient if they exceed their trained ability. Remember, it’s not illegal for a non-medical practitioner (including a beautician) to perform filler injections but it presents a real risk to patient safety.

Secondary accreditation

Many qualified Medical Aesthetic Practitioners operate within a clinic that is accredited by a second regulatory body such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Save Face or often both. But what do these regulatory bodies do?

They check and verify:

• qualifications

• registration with statutory bodies

• training for every treatment a Medical Aesthetic Practitioner provides

• insurance

• training updates

• the premises meets standards for safety and professionalism

In essence, registration with a secondary regulatory body provides additional piece-of-mind for a client.

How can you make sure you choose the right practitioner?

Follow these 5 simple steps:

1. Check they're registered with a regulatory body like the GMC, NMC or DMC

2. Check they’re registered with a secondary regulatory body like the CQC or Save Face

3. Look for certificates for training and qualifications

4. Check for evidence they are up-to-date with the latest procedures, training and products

5. Confirm their clinic is insured and the products and equipment they use are licensed and


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