Cosmetic dermatology is the use of dermatological treatments and training to perform procedures for predominantly cosmetic reasons, this can be on the skin, hair, or nails. It is very unusual for cosmetic procedures to be available on the NHS, which instead focusses on clinical dermatology. Most cosmetic dermatological treatments are done by private providers, which you will have to pay for. Due to the limited regulation regarding who can perform these procedures is important that you do your research regarding your provider and their qualifications. You can find out how to do this in the sections below.
Botulinum toxin, often referred to using the brand name Botox(R), is a medicine produced by a type of bacteria called Clostridium botulinum and is used to temporarily improve the look of both moderate to severe crow’s feet lines and frown lines between the eyebrows. A small amount is injected into a muscle, which blocks nerve signals that tell your muscles to contract. This ‘freezes’ or weakens the muscle so that it cannot contract and cause the wrinkles that would normally occur when the facial muscle moves. It is temporary, lasting on average 3 to 6 months.
Skin rejuvenation and peels
These treatments, which include chemical peels and micro needling, aim to make skin look younger and fresher by treating light wrinkles, pigmentation, acne and more. Side effects can include burning, peeling and permanent skin discolouration.
There are several different types / brands of fillers, used to plump out wrinkles in the skin or add volume to areas of hollowness or sagging.
Lasers and Light
There are many different types of cosmetic laser / light treatments available, used for a vast range of skin issues, including wrinkles, pigmentation, acne, hair removal and scarring. They can cause significant skin problems, including burns, if not administered correctly.
Hair restoration surgery
Hair transplantation involves the surgical transfer of hair follicles from a donor area to a recipient area. There are two methods of donor hair harvesting –Strip Follicular Unit Transplantation (Strip FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). Both have advantages and disadvantages. Patients might benefit more from one than the other or be suitable for either technique. Only medical doctors should do the surgical steps of a hair transplant procedure.
Prosthetic hair fibre implantation
Synthetic hair fibres can be implanted in the skin to simulate natural hair coverage. Unlike transplanted hair, these artificial hair fibres do not grow, tend to fall out over time, and need to be kept clean to avoid getting infected. The fibres should only be inserted by a hair transplant surgeon.
How to find the right practitioner?
The British Association of Dermatologists recommends that cosmetic dermatology treatments are performed by trained consultant dermatologists. However, they can be performed by other medical and non-medical practitioners with the correct training. You can check the registration status of your doctor with the General Medical Council (GMC), it will note if they are a specialist or a GP. For example, the key parts of a dermatologist’s entry would read:
Status: Registered with a licence to practise; this doctor is on the Specialist Register
Specialist Register entry date: Dermatology From DD/MM/YYYY
GP Register entry date: This doctor is not on the GP Register.
In addition to the GMC you can review the Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP), which lists members and which procedures that they are qualified to do. You should never get treatment from anyone without suitable training and premises.