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ABIC CEO, Stef Milla - ABC News Interview on proposed new guidelines for non-surgical sector

New guidelines for non-surgical cosmetic sector proposed | ABC News

ABIC CEO, Stef Milla and ABIC Councillor Nicky Tzimas spoke with ABC News Reporter, Claire Moodie to discuss the AHPRA proposed new guidelines for the non-surgical cosmetic sector.


Does there need to be more regulation of the non-surgical cosmetic procedures industry – and if so, why ?

Stef Milla : Fair, appropriate regulation is needed, not over regulation. The Current proposed guidelines are actually based on independent review of the surgical sector.  Surgical and non-surgical cosmetic enhancements carry very different risk profiles. So what is most appropriate is that an independent review into non surgical cosmetic enhancements is performed, in consultation with industry experts, and current clients of the sector.

What’s more, is that there is an incorrect definition of what is considered medical non surgical. Treatments belonging to beauty and dermal sector have been incorrectly categorised in this proposal under medical non-surgical cosmetic.  Chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser and non-medical procedures belong to the well-established, beauty and dermal sector, with its own guidelines and education requirements.

Clearer guidelines are needed, but overly stringent regulation, can potentially stifle transparency, limit access, and choice for patients.

AHPRA would like to strengthen the existing guidelines to ensure that all practitioners are properly assessing clients’ suitability for treatment and screening them for any mental health issues like body dysmorphia – what do you think of this proposal?

Stef Milla :  Some of the guidelines surrounding assessing client suitability for treatment are extremely beneficial. Feedback when it comes to informed consent, financial consent, and consent for the use of before and after images is overwhelmingly positive.  Thorough patient consultation to assess motivation, expectations, results, risks and potential side effects are all necessary.  We also support the additional responsibilities when providing non-surgical cosmetic procedures for persons, under 18 years of age

At this stage we feel that nurses and practitioners should be aware of body dysmorphic disorder, but perhaps more consultation and review is required before a screening tool becomes a requirement of their practice.  We are not sure at this stage if the pre-screening tool for body dysmorphic disorder is wholly required for the nonsurgical cosmetic sector.

There is also a proposal that practitioners shouldn’t use any inducements - like cut price offers within certain time-frames – is that necessary ?

Stef Milla :  There's a fine line between inducements with regard to price cutting or offering a discount, and packaging a course of treatments designed specifically for the patient, and calling that inducement.  In Industry, it's well understood that complementary treatments are most beneficial for patient outcomes, and therefore we tend to combine various modalities together or various treatments together to get a better result for the client.

There is one provision under the guidelines that stipulates you cannot package up Non-surgical enhancement treatments with another treatment, which is not representative of best practice. Combined therapy and a holistic approach to treatment care is always the best approach.

Advertising is a key issue that AHPRA has identified – what do you think about the proposals it has put forward (these are mainly on pages 42 to 45 of the consultation paper)

Stef Milla  Some are valid, some are overly restrictive –  For example Ahpra is supporting the TGA requirements for banning the use of commonly used terms such as dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections. Using indirect terminology or “coded language” to describe a treatment is not promoting transparency and can lead to a lack of transparency and confusion for clients.  Also limiting how many times we can communicate with our community is not promoting patient education

We agree that social media influencers should not be promoting non surgical cosmetic treatments and we support the use of genuine, clear, before and after images.  We agree that advertising should promote realistic expectation of outcomes, however we see the potential benefit of genuine, ethical client testimonials.  And most importantly the use of descriptive, and commonly used terms such as dermal fillers, should not be removed from advertising.

This would mean that practitioners would not be able to use music, for example, in their social media advertising – do you support that ?

Stef Milla  Marketing and communication should be educational - The use of light and background music should support that education. So while industry doesn’t agree with the complete removal of music, they agree that the type of music used should not glamorise the procedures.  Marketing and communication, if done ethically, can assist with patient research and education.

Why does advertising have to change ?

Stef Milla  AHPRAs intent with the proposed guidelines is limit the glamorization of non surgical cosmetic enhancements, and we wholeheartedly support that sentiment.  But its important that we do not stifle or limit patient education through effective, clear and transparent communication.  In this day and age people do their research online, and they should have that freedom of information and freedom of choice.  Knowledge is power and we need to be careful not to remove that power from our clients.

AHPRA says the new, stronger guidelines, if accepted, will be enforced . Would you welcome this? And how difficult do you think they will be to enforce ?

Stef Milla  There is going to be a practical limit to how these guidelines are enforced, so it will largely come down to self-regulation.  Providing education to nurses and practitioners regarding the guidelines will assist in their smooth implementation.  AHPRA have also suggested that they may use technology to monitor online communication. We do have questions as to the effectiveness of this suggestion.  The guidelines suggest punitive measures for non-compliance, we would rather see a shift towards education and elevation of standards, rather than excessively harsh consequences.

Identifying psychological red flags

Nicky Tzimas is a registered nurse who has set up a training organisation for nurses and therapists working in the cosmetics sector.

"What we have to be mindful of is that patients are not using these treatments as a band-aid for unmet psychological needs," she said.

"Aesthetic nurses should have some pre-screening questions within that process to help identify some potential red flags.

"It's part of our duty of care to conduct a comprehensive consultation and assessment process every time a patient comes into the clinic."

Ms Tzimas said the institute had teamed up with Swinburne University to develop a 'Cosmetic Aesthetic Non-Surgical Assessment Tool' to assess patients' suitability before treatment.

But she said the AHPRA needed to consult with the industry on how the psychological screening of patients under the new guidelines would be carried out in practice.

"Rather than creating a tick box of what we should be doing, we need to be thinking about how we're going to do it and what it's going to mean for the end user..and that's the patient," she said.

Read the full article here >>> Pursuit of the perfect smile amid cosmetic procedures crackdown_abc_news


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