As more of us join the quest for a perfect body and a flawless face, a growing number of salons and spas are offering cosmetic enhancement procedures, leading us to believe that these treatments are easy and free of risks or complications. But how can you really be sure you’re putting yourself in safe hands?
The simple answer is: do your homework before committing yourself. As well as the expertise to administer treatment, a therapist needs training in the basics of anatomy, physiology and dermatology. Any salon worth its salt will proudly display staff training certificates and salon qualifications; these include the local NVQ diploma in Beauty Therapy and the BTEC in Beauty Therapy Sciences, as well as the international CIDESCO, CIBTAC and ITEC diplomas in beauty therapy. The salon should be registered with the South African Association of Health and Skincare Professionals (SAAHSP), the Beauty Health and Skincare Employers Association (BHSEA), or the Afro Hairdressing and Beauty Association of South Africa (AHBEASA).
And ask questions. Are the machines new or at least properly disinfected? What procedures are in place to deal with an emergency? Is this device or treatment appropriate for my skin type? Have you performed this procedure before, and may I see your before and after photographs? Have you reviewed my medical history? What are the pain management strategies? And the follow-up options? Trust your intuition: don’t be afraid to walk away if it doesn’t feel right.
Don’t be tempted by bargain-basement prices; if you’re offered a treatment which costs significantly less than usual, you can assume it won’t be the best or safest. Don’t ever go to someone’s home, a shopping mall, or a hotel room to have a cosmetic procedure of any sort, and don’t buy such treatments off the internet.
Cosmetic procedures which involve injecting anything into your body should be performed only by or under the direct supervision of a doctor. Legally, non-medical personnel may not inject scheduled substances, nor even have such substances in their possession. If the doctor is to be supervising, make sure he or she will be on site throughout and immediately available to respond to any questions or problems that may occur while the procedure is being performed. Skin care therapists who use lasers of any sort should also be employed by a doctor or working in a doctor’s rooms, under direct supervision of a medical practitioner.
Any form of cosmetic surgery, even minor procedures, should be carried out only by a board-certified plastic surgeon who is registered as such with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and is a member of the Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons of South Africa (APRSSA).
Before embarking on any cosmetic enhancement procedure, inform yourself thoroughly. Discuss the procedure in depth with your chosen professional, ask questions, find out exactly what devices or machines will be used, look at photographs of his or her previous work, and if possible talk to past patients or clients. The websites www.whatclinic.com and www.cosmeticweb.co.za offer comprehensive information on clinics and salons providing a range of cosmetic procedure options in your area, and could help you make the best – and safest – choice.