You can run into trouble in so many ways in this unregulated world of aesthetics. I imagine it’s how it would have been in the Wild West, but with needles instead of guns.
Even some trainers offering toxin injection courses may have no experience or might never have picked up a needle, yet can legally train others how to do it!
It’s the stuff of nightmares.
However, with a few facts about toxins, treatment, safety and standards and why they are (or should be) important to you – it’s possible to stay safe and get effective treatment.
Here’s what you need to know…
Note: Like when Hoover became the everyday word for a vacuum cleaner, ‘Botox®‘ has become the common word for all botulinum toxin treatments. So I don’t misrepresent anyone or anything, I’m using the words “toxins” or “toxin injections” to represent all brands.
Botulinum toxin injections ARE a medical treatment
Despite what others might say to the contrary, this is the number one fact to be aware of. The decision to have treatment should not be taken lightly, and full background knowledge is needed.
The different toxins and how to choose one
Botox® is a trademarked, type A botulinum toxin made by Pharmaceutical company Allergan. Other popular brands include Bocoture from Merz and Azzalure from Galderma.
Each of the toxin brands have their own particular properties and should be prescribed for you because of their suitability – not price. This should be discussed with you in a thorough face-face consultation with an experienced medical prescriber and practitioner.
As prescription-only medications, there are strict regulations as to who can prescribe them and how and where they can be used.
How can you tell if what you’re getting is a genuine product?
The Pharmaceutical companies who manufacture the different types of toxins only allow regulated and pre-approved UK pharmacies to dispense their products.
These are the only genuine products available and anything bought outside of these suppliers is not guaranteed and might be fake.
There’s no end of toxins available to buy off the internet and from unapproved pharmacies/suppliers which are cheap. We get almost weekly alerts from the manufacturers about fake products on the market.
Should anything go wrong there’s no back up if the supply source isn’t a guaranteed one, and insurers won’t help in these circumstances. You could end with a problem that can’t be corrected because the product wasn’t genuine, not used in the right place nor injected correctly.
If in doubt – ask to see the original packaging and for details of the supply chain.
Who can prescribe treatment?
Your toxin prescription MUST be written by a qualified prescriber.
This is someone with a medical background who has successfully completed a prescribing course – they will be trained and experienced in delivering toxin injections and have prescribing rights for the toxin medication. Doctors and Dentists are covered from studying for their medical degree.
This means for example, a Physiotherapist or Pharmacist who has ONLY taken and passed a prescribers course to assist them in their field of work, shouldn’t be prescribing toxin injections unless they use and are trained to use them in their daily work. They have strict guidelines as to what they are and are not qualified to prescribe.
If in doubt – check the prescriber has the right to prescribe and had training in toxin injections. With no qualifications or training in how to administer toxin injections, how can they safely prescribe them?
How does a practitioner assess which patients aresuitable for treatment?
The regulations state that the prescriber must initially see a patient in-person to assess suitability for treatment, before issuing that prescription. An online video consultation is not allowed.
During that face-to-face consultation, if you can, and you should, it’s a good opportunity to ask them about their qualifications and background. Ask who regulates them, e.g. the General Medical Council, The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC), or the General Dental Council (GDC).
Who’s doing treatment?
Would you not be curious if your prescriber was handing over the responsibility of treatment to someone less qualified and non-medical?
Think of it this way…
If I offered to cut, colour or perm your hair when the only hair I’ve ever styled was my Sindy Doll’s, would you trust me?
If I was going to do your acrylic nails when I’ve never done a manicure before?
If I said I could build a wall of your house, when the most I’ve ever made is a sandcastle?
Even if I’d been on a day course, used quality products from genuine suppliers and charged a low price for my lack of expertise, surely you’d question how your hair, nails or walls would end up and think twice.
Throw personal safety into the equation and choosing a suitably trained toxin injector takes on a whole new level of importance.
Every professional body has a pathway of training and a period of experience before saying their members are competent.
And rightly so.
It’s not done to keep people out of the industry. It’s in recognition of the skills, knowledge and expertise required to offer an industry-standard service to customers. And in the case of toxin injections, a safe one too.
Even in skilled and experienced medical hands, toxin injections can go wrong. Imagine the possible dangers from inexperienced practitioners?
- What training and medical experience do they have?
- Do they offer one or more different toxins?
- Does he or she understand the characteristics of each one and which will work best for you?
- If you get poor results, will they understand why and be able to explain that to you?
- Different brands of toxins have a lesser or greater degree of extra proteins. Over time, a build-up of antibodies to the toxin and proteins can lead to less effective treatment – would they know if, when, and with what to treat next time?
Above all, the price you pay should not be a bigger priority than safety.
What’s allowed and what’s not
As prescription-only medicines, it’s illegal to offer toxin injections in a sale, at a discounted price or as a competition prize or raffle.
Unless the registered trademark is used, and the toxin being referred to is made by Allergan, the word ‘Botox®’ cannot be used in any advertising – including websites, shop fronts or advertising boards.
Be wary of anyone that misuses the word in this way – if they are ignorant or don’t care about flouting the law, they may apply the same standards to supply, training and treatment.
How should toxin be prepared and used?
Your toxin prescription is written for you alone. You should be shown the sealed bottle before starting each full treatment. There’s more than one toxin, remember to ask which is being prescribed and the reasons why.
All toxins arrive at your practitioner’s premises in sterile vials as a dry powder. This needs to be diluted with a solution to make it liquid.
Each manufacturer has strict ratios of powder to liquid that should be followed to the letter to ensure you get a safe and effective dose. Be aware that some practitioners over-dilute to make the product go further. This makes them more money and gives you a less effective treatment.
You shouldn’t arrive to find a range of pre-loaded syringes ready to use and feel like you’re part of a production line. This is a warning sign that speed is a bigger priority than following the recommended best practice. Also, all but one of the toxins need to remain refrigerated and in general shouldn’t be warming up on the countertop in a syringe.
If you see something you don’t like, never be afraid to ask.
What to expect during treatment
Before treatment starts, your consent to be treated should be requested. You should also be asked how you’re feeling (being off-colour can affect your results) and for changes to your health and/or medications (including herbal ones).
During treatment, the following should take place:
- Your face is cleaned thoroughly
- Muscle movement is checked
- Your muscles are marked with an appropriate medical marker
- Photos are taken before treatment
- Skin cooling is offered if you find treatment difficult
- One fine gauge needle is used per area (or more) to ensure your comfort
- Photos are taken after treatment
- You are reminded of post-treatment care (no matter how many times you’ve been treated).
What happens after treatment?
You should be offered a follow-up or “top-up” visit within four weeks of your full treatment, and this should be included in your treatment price.
Increasingly we are hearing of places charging for this service, so please ask before you start.
How to choose a practitioner?
One word… wisely.
Use this checklist to help you…
- Are they able and permitted to prescribe?
- Are they adequately trained, experienced and qualified?
- Are they available to help you 24/7? (or can they assign a qualified colleague to do so)
- Can they access or administer immediate help if something goes wrong?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no” – keep looking.
Honesty and integrity are equally important – value these in the same way as the technical ability and safe practice of your chosen professional.
Don’t be frightened to ask questions and to walk away if you’re not happy or comfortable with the answers.
Hopefully, you now have an idea as to what to expect and why checking your practitioner’s credentials are important.
Don’t expect all answers to be honest. Ask for proof if you feel you’re being fobbed off.
Keep your personal safety in mind at all times, to avoid having to deal with unnecessary complications and heartache. Instead, make decisions wisely and you can be out there looking good and feeling happy.
That’s the whole point of having treatment in the first place.
Here at Discover Laser we take regulation, training, experience, protocols and safety standards extremely seriously. Our ultimate aim is to help people to have safe and effective treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do get in touch with one of our friendly team on 01282 420886 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.
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