While many beauty treatments – from nail care to hair colouring – can be replicated at home (with varying success), injectable treatments such as wrinkle-relaxing injections like Botox and dermal fillers, certainly can not be. Yes, the industry may be unregulated, but it is imperative you see a qualified injector for anything falling into this cosmetics camp. For this reason, it’s understandable that those who are used to maintaining their ‘tweakments’ are currently pining for their practitioners.
“Since lockdown, we have over 15-to-20 enquires a day from patients asking for the clinic to reopen,” Dr Tijion Esho, one of the UK’s leading aesthetic doctors, tells Harper’s Bazaar.
He’s also seeing an increase in interest from new customers (or existing customers wanting to address a new problem) as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. “I am now doing between 10 and 15 video consultations a day, with more and more people who seem to be driven, or triggered, by how they look on Zoom, leading them to seek injectable treatments.”
While many, including Dr Esho, see this as a problematic effect of the Zoom boom, it clearly has some very real benefits for the protection of the cosmetic dermatology industry – and patient safety.
“Post-Covid-19, the way we treat and see our patients will evolve where the use of digital technology such as Zoom will be key, allowing us to connect with the consumer virtually,” the doctor explains. “In addition, we will use social media as our main tool for patient education.”
Virtual clinics will become commonplace
As a global business, The Esho Clinic (there are two in the UK and one in Dubai), has benefitted from video contact with clients for some time.
“Pre-pandemic, we had an established ‘virtual clinic’ service where patients sent set us HD images of their faces before a Zoom/Skype-based consultation to be assessed. This, together with the use of 4K screens, has allowed us to give a detailed assessment of the facial dynamics and skin that normally had to be achieved in a face-to-face setting.”
He explains that “this approach not only makes the process Covid-secure, but it also allows us to assess patients from all across the world from our office space.”
With people now more vigilant in their use of travel, he believes this system will become the norm for all patients when lockdown is lifted, “as opposed to before, where this was reserved for my patients in different continents.”
All assessments and admin will be done remotely
In terms of how local appointments will operate differently going forward, all advanced prep will be completed remotely. “The consultation, assessment and even consent process will now all be completed from the security of the patient’s own home,” Dr Esho tells us.
“When discussing skin conditions such as acne, topical products will be prescribed and shipped from the clinics direct to the patient’s door, and this will be reviewed at intervals with the above system making the whole process remote.” Many clinics are already offering these virtual facial services, and this looks set to continue.
“For those that want interventions” – i.e. cosmetic procedures, from Botox to fillers and body contouring – “when lockdown lifts on our industry, we will follow an official Covid-secure process where safety is paramount, as always.”
The ‘new normal’ will include screenings and PPE
In-person, treatment appointments will also feel very different. “Upon arrival to the clinic, patients will be directed to place on shoe covers, gloves and face masks.” These will remain on or be removed where appropriate for treatments. “A temperature check will be taken at this point,” he adds, so they can screen for exposure to viruses.
“As all pre-assessment and documents will have been completed remotely, the patient will then be streamlined to their treatment room where they are then seen by their doctor wearing the correct PPE.”
Dr Esho believes this may be the ‘new normal’ for aesthetics for a long time to come. He adds, “educating patients about these changes on social media is key,” so they are prepared.
There will be no overlap of clients
“Appointments will now work on a one-in, one-out basis,” the doctor explains. Far from limiting bookings, “time slots will be booked adequately for each patient so there’s no overlapping, while also leaving sufficient time to clean and dry the room post-procedures.”
He will certainly not encourage a culture of patients getting more treatments done at once, to avoid revisits. Indeed, “management of patient plans will remain the same to ensure patients receive the highest results and best quality service,” he explains. “Treating more than you would normally in one sitting not only compromises results, but can also jeopardise patient safety which we should never do.”
Clinic visits may be less frequent
Whether cosmetic dermatology clinics will see an increase or decrease in procedure bookings post-pandemic depends on the clientele, he says. “Many of our patients have quite a high disposable income and haven’t been compromised financially by Covid-19. From looking at bookings the two months after we plan to reopen, it looks 30 per cent busier than before, showing us that patients still want to be treated – and to be seen.
“This may change in the presence of a second wave of the virus, as seen in global markets that are ahead us, where ‘Coronaphobia’ has set in, making people more reluctant to go out,” he adds.
While appointments will certainly change, only time will tell if demand will decline or not. Either way, interest in injectables remains the same – if not higher – than ever.
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