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Date:
Aug 29, 2020
Written By:Dr Emmaline Ashley
Dr Emmaline Ashley
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You’ve probably heard the term used many times. So, what exactly is 'medical aesthetics?'

Broadly speaking, medical aesthetics includes all medical treatments that are focused on improving the cosmetic appearance of patients. Medical aesthetics sits in a beautiful little niche in between the beauty industry and plastic surgery. Qualified doctors, nurses, or dentists can provide a multitude of stunning tweakments to improve your appearance.

These tweakments require a high degree of skill, training, and knowledge of your anatomy and physiology. This is what separates medical aesthetic treatments from beauty treatments like eyebrow threading, waxing, or eyelash extensions. On the other hand, medical aesthetic treatments are not as aggressive as surgical interventions (aesthetic medical treatments are sometimes referred to as non-surgical cosmetic treatments), which includes procedures like facelifts, breast augmentations, or liposuction.

Venn diagram showing where medical aesthetics fits between beauty and cosmetic surgery

So, what does it mean when someone says they are a 'cosmetic doctor' or an 'aesthetic doctor'?

Although there is obviously an overlap, aesthetic doctors should not be confused with dermatologists and plastic surgeons (although many dermatologists and surgeons may also practice aesthetic medicine). Dermatologists and plastic surgeons have specific training pathways they undergo to be qualified in their fields. Aesthetic doctors are medically qualified, but may have trained in a variety of different specialties or completed various different higher degrees or diplomas in their chosen field. But aesthetic doctors are doctors who specifically perform aesthetic medical procedures.

These procedures include platelet-rich plasma injections, microneedling, laser treatments, anti-wrinkle treatments using botulinum toxin (a prescription-only medication), dermal fillers and lip fillers, medical-grade skincare, chemical peels or skin resurfacing, and hair transplantation.

Who should I see for aesthetic treatments?

Aesthetic medicine, therefore, represents an entirely new, modern, and cutting edge field of medical practice. It is a rapidly expanding industry with demand growing every single day for a very good reason – the results deliver and it works. While many of these cosmetic treatments used to be beauty’s best kept little secret, more and more patients are increasingly open about having procedures done, bringing it to the forefront of the public eye. People love looking refreshed and renewed, with subtle tweaks to increase their beauty. In the hands of an experienced and qualified medical practitioner, you should still look like you – just with that new, head-turning, gorgeous glow.

Close up of a woman's face

To me, the appeal of aesthetic medicine comes in the combination of an artist’s eye with a surgeon’s steady hand. This is why - when I founded Ashley Aesthetics - I saw it as a moment “when science and art met beauty.”

However, the field of medical aesthetics is very unique in the UK, in that it is largely unregulated. This is a hotly contested and controversial topic, but it is something that many medical practitioners passionately believe needs to be changed for the safety of the public and for our patients.

At the moment, anyone can pick up a needle and start practising with almost no training or knowledge of the facial anatomy. Like any other medical intervention, aesthetic medical treatments come with risks. An ethical medical practitioner knows what these risks are and how to minimise them with extensive education and training, and an ethical medical practitioner is trained in emergency medicine and can handle the worst-case scenario if it occurs. Only medically-qualified practitioners and licensed prescribers (who are answerable to professional bodies) fit this description.

Guest post by Dr Emmaline Ashley, medically qualified doctor, and founder of Ashley Aesthetics.