Medical aesthetics is an offshoot of cosmetic dermatology where the experience gained from practicing cosmetic dermatology is applied to the management of various diseases and disorders, manage their side effects, correct deformities and improve the quality of life. 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.
Ultimately, with access and understanding comes normalization. As patients get better educated, they become less anxious about treatments and more willing to take the leap, which has led to explosive growth in consumer demand across generations, from Baby Boomers to Millennials. Millennials in particular (ages 21 to 35) are open to receiving aesthetic treatments. The demand for aesthetic medical procedures has and will continue to grow in such emerging markets as Brazil, India, China, and Mexico.
Increased medical tourism driven by a growing awareness of aesthetic specialties, a rise in disposable incomes, and an increasing volume of aesthetic surgeons in these countries have made for increasing opportunities for aesthetic medicine players in these countries. Specifically, a groundswell of adults in the target market range of 25 to 65 years of age in India and China will make for especially rapid growth in the Asia Pacific region.
Social stigmas associated with cosmetic treatments (surgical and nonsurgical) are mainly due to negative perceptions toward aesthetic procedures as well as the presence of religious and ethical concerns related to some aesthetic treatments, such as alterations, augmentations, erasures, and fillings. Although many people undergo some form of appearance-altering treatment, very few of them like to talk about it. Some people consider undergoing invasive anti-aging treatments, such as BOTOX or cosmetic surgery, as vain, self-centered, or being mentally unwell. Despite the increasing emphasis on looking younger among the elderly population, there are possible negative social consequences related to engaging in cosmetic age concealment. The social stigma attached to aesthetic treatments negatively affects the social acceptance of these procedures, thereby hindering the growth of this market.
WHAT COMPRISES ‘MEDICAL AESTHETICS’?
Medical aesthetics is all about the extrapolation of cosmetic dermatology procedures as therapeutic modalities for treatment purposes. Treating dermatological conditions with aesthetic procedures, comes under the realm of aesthetic medicine, not just cosmetology, as many of them are treated to relieve symptoms rather than just to improve outward looks.
Some of the cosmetic dermatology tools and procedures which can be applied to therapeutic interventions include botulinum toxin in hyperhidrosis, chemical peels in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, laser hair removal for engrafted skin and hairy nevi, laser resurfacing for scar revision, intense pulse light for acne and rosacea, thread lift in facial paralysis, injection lipolysis in lipomas, hair transplantation in vitiligo, hyaluronic acid infiltration and autologous fat transplantation in the management of Parry-Romberg syndrome and localized lipodystrophy. This list of applications is not exhaustive and shall only increase with experience.
The scope of coverage includes, but will not be limited to: healthy skin; skin maintenance; ageing skin; photodamage and photoprotection; rejuvenation; biochemistry, endocrinology and neuroimmunology of healthy skin; imaging; skin measurement; quality of life; skin types; sensitive skin; rosacea and acne; sebum; sweat; fat; phlebology; hair conservation, restoration and removal; nails and nail surgery; pigment; psychological and medicolegal issues; retinoids; cosmetic chemistry; dermopharmacy; cosmeceuticals; toiletries; striae; cellulite; cosmetic dermatological surgery; blepharoplasty; liposuction; surgical complications; botulinum; fillers, peels and dermabrasion; local and tumescent anaesthesia; electrosurgery; lasers, including laser physics, laser research and safety, vascular lasers, pigment lasers, hair removal lasers, tattoo removal lasers, resurfacing lasers, dermal remodelling lasers and laser complications.
Dermatology has evolved into a niche specialty. Enabling dermatologists to learn and practice both conventional and aesthetic dermatology shall reflect the true intent of the fraternity. The pause that the COVID-19 pandemic has given our practice, gives us time to ponder over this thought and possibly apply it, in its aftermath when health systems recover. Coining the term ‘Medical Aesthetics’ in dermatology and recognizing its implication, is thus an inescapable part of our practice and the need of these changing times.