When I first began to get cosmetic procedures, I already knew the horror stories – lip fillers gone wrong, face muscles getting affected because of a wrong injection – but none of this bothered me. I cared about the price and how close the provider was located to me.
This quickly changed when I began working at Healthcare Improvement Scotland within the team responsible for regulating private healthcare (clinics, hospitals and hospices that are not part of the NHS). In Scotland, private clinics provided by doctors, nurses, dental care professionals or midwifes are required to be registered with our organisation. We currently have over 500 private clinics across Scotland that are registered or completing registration. Now, the most important factor in my decision-making is whether the clinic where I am booking a cosmetic procedure is registered with us, which means that their staff will be appropriately qualified and that the clinic is regulated to meet the standards of care set out in Scotland.
It was during my first my first appointment with the clinic I currently use – which was a consultation only – that I noticed the stark difference between regulated and unregulated clinics. In the course of the appointment, I felt that not only was I given great advice about what would work for me specifically, but that the clinicians wanted to make sure that I was getting the procedures for the right reasons. I felt that they were subtly checking to see if I was doing this for myself, that I understood what the process entailed and that I wasn’t affected by body dysmorphia. This was very different from the non-regulated clinics that I attend in the past, where I felt that the practitioners were only interested in taking my money and that frequently, they would have more than one patient in at the same time, which meant I didn’t receive their undivided attention, which naturally increased the scope for error.
While I now have the assurance that I am in the hands of certified healthcare professionals, this is often not the case for many people. Since talking about my work to my friends, I have been approached by numerous people, asking me for advice about aesthetic procedures and specific clinics, to see if I know about them and if they are registered with Healthcare Improvement Scotland. It highlighted to me just how important it is that young people – and all those considering cosmetic procedures – know what to look for in a clinic and how to guarantee that they will be safe and taken care of.
For many of the people I have spoken to, the first step they now take when it comes to researching a clinic for treatments is to check if they are registered with us. Everything else, like location and price, comes after.
What all people considering aesthetic work must do is prioritise their personal safety and wellbeing, and the best way to do this is in the hands of a trained healthcare professional working at a registered clinic.
Natalie Graham is 26 and an administrative officer with Healthcare Improvement Scotland.