6 Tips for Starting Your Own Aesthetics Practice

6 Tips for Starting Your Own Aesthetics Practice
8th March 2016 Beth L. Swingler

Want to train in aesthetic medicine, but not sure what comes next? How do you set up an aesthetics practice? Should you work in an established clinic first?

If private practice is generally a foreign idea to you, naturally these questions seem difficult. But as business visionary Peter Druker once said, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.”

There are many benefits to becoming an independent aesthetic practitioner:

– Independence
– One-to-one patient time
– Artistic enjoyment
– Greater earning potential (rising with experience)
– Convenient variety that fits alongside your medical profession

If the idea appeals, here are 6 pieces of advice for setting up and maintaining a successful independent clinic.

young woman on rejuvenation procedure in beauty clinic, filler injection


1. Train (first) in the ‘bread and butter’

Botulinum Toxins and Hyaluronic Acid fillers account for the majority of non-surgical cosmetic procedures (48.2% and 16.5% respectively according to the latest report by the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery). The unregulated landscape of the UK aesthetics industry precludes statistical analysis, but the figures are thought to be similar.

In contrast, expensive machines and niche techniques can cost a lot to add to your practice, with no guarantee that this investment will pay off. For example, a £40,000 Laser might prove useful in a larger clinic, but the primary aim of such an investment is more likely to be attracting clients who will later get Botox and filler treatments than, for example, to make a profit from hair removal treatments themselves.

A strong theoretical and practical background in a range of Botulinum Toxins and Hyaluronic Acid fillers is far more valuable for a new practitioner than a superficial familiarity with 18 diverse yet uncommon procedures.

Expensive machines and niche techniques can cost a lot to add to your practice, with no guarantee that this investment will pay off.

2. Reputation, reputation, reputation

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

– Warren Buffett

The simple idea fuelling successful aesthetics practice is this: build a strong relationship with your clients and they will keep coming back, often every 3-4 months, and so will their friends.

Word-of-mouth is the reliable way to establish a successful practice. The quality of your training will directly translate into the number of referrals you get from your first patients. Referrals bring with them loyal patients. With a strong foundation of trust, the increasing popularity of your aesthetic procedures can continue over the long term

Word-of-mouth is the reliable way to establish a successful practice.

Confident Male Doctor Standing Arms Crossed In Clinic

3. Prepare

You don’t need a business background to set up your own independent aesthetics practice. You will however need some basic infrastructure and experience before you can safely and legally begin:

Register as self employed.
Get good cosmetic insurance (e.g. we work with Cosmetic Insure and Hamilton Fraser).
Stock up on equipment and supplies.
Develop a robust consenting system (this should be covered even in Foundation Training).
Plan for problems.
Shadow and practice in a real clinical setting.

Putting time into being organised is the only way to ensure your business can be effective from the start.

4. Keep learning

Winners never quit, and quitters never win.
– Vince Lombardi

Once you have a solid foundation in the core injection techniques, there are considerable opportunities for advancing and diversifying your skills. Investing in training is probably one of the best decisions you can make. If you can make £2,000 per 8 treatments that you perform, then your return on investment for high-quality skills will be swift.

The only way to succeed in an industry as lucrative — and therefore competitive — as aesthetic medicine is to maintain dedication to it. So nourish your interest in it: attend conferences, workshops, and augment your artistic and technical precision at every opportunity. At Harley Academy, we realise the importance of continual growth in your knowledge that’s why we offer a variety of courses such as our chemical peel training and microneedling training. 


Male and female medical students or doctors using digital tablet and laptop during the lecture or conference. Focus on the man with pad

Choose a training academy with opportunities to continue professional development after graduating.

5. Seek support

Sharing expertise is invaluable for independent practitioners. If you don’t already have acquaintances working in aesthetics, consider how you might find some.

Although not mandatory, you may consider joining a body such as BCAM, which provides a network of support and advice from fellow aesthetic practitioners.

BCAM (for doctors), BACN (for nurses) and other voluntary registers also allow prospective patients to find registered medical professionals who have provided evidence of their insurance and training. As such they can lend additional visibility to your practice.

Seek support and advice from fellow aesthetic practitioners.

6. Listen to your patients

Once you’ve got patients, it’s crucial that you keep them. Patients who keep coming back:

  • Have no acquisition costs associated with them
  • Are easier to treat as trust builds
  • Are less likely to complain
  • Are by many considered more enjoyable to treat as the relationship strengthens

So what keeps patients coming back? Feeling listened to, and having their desires truly understood. Clear communication is largely an active form of listening. Your patient may be showing signs of worry or concern that you can only notice if you’re open to what they are really saying, and you are willing to rephrase what they are saying and return it to them as a question.

Always allow sufficient time to have a thorough patient consultation.

Following up on your patients post-treatment is also an excellent way to learn, improve your aesthetic judgement, and strengthen your relationship with each patient. You can follow up by text, phone and in person — preferably a combination of all three.

By covering the above points your independent practice has the potential to be something great, and sustainable – both for you and for your patients.



Further reading:

Comments (30)

  1. Emilie Cliffe 2 years ago

    Hi, I am interested in booking into Botox and fuller course. I am currently a registered midwife with the NHS and planning to leave my role and work as an agency midwife to suit my family life.
    How does it work with prescribing Botox? I want to be sure I can actually practice before I book the course.

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 2 years ago

      Hi Emilie,
      You’re very eligible for our injectables course (foundation day and level 7). However, you will not be able to prescribe botox until you have completed a V300 nurse prescribers course, which will likely have to be self-funded unless your NHS trust are willing to sponsor you.

      The v300 will make your aesthetics practice marginally easier, but is not a necessary pre-requisite.

      As a non-prescriber, you will be able to procure and administer dermal fillers, the 2nd most requested cosmetic procedure, independently.

      You can also administer botulinum toxins independently, provided you work with a doctor who can consult and prescribe for your patients. Many will do this for small fee.

      After a year of practise in aesthetics you are eligible for the V300. This will allow you to prescribe botulinum toxins, which will circumvent the need for an outsourced prescriber. I recommend you call and talk to some universities who offer the V300 to check your eligibility, and fees, etc.

      I know this can be confusing, so please call 0203 859 7598 if you would like a member of our team to run you through your options, and prices for each element of the courses that we offer.

      • Jane Morales 2 years ago

        Dear Colleague I am a non-med prescriber having successfully completed the V300. I wonder if I can prescribe following a thorough consultation with the client. My business partner is the administrator. Does this mean we are an ideal pair to run aesthetic clinic? How much each botox/prescription cost?

        • Author
          Beth L. Swingler 2 years ago

          Hi Jane,

          Are you saying that you are a nurse prescriber? Is your partner qualified in the delivery of injectables?

          You can prescribe the botulinum toxins for your partner to deliver on the condition that you conduct the pre-treatment consultation yourself. The prices of botulinum toxins vary depending on your supplier and preferred brand, so it’s worth checking the price ranges with a specialist pharmacy such as Church Pharmacy.

          Please remember that if you prescribe a POM for a patient, then you are ultimately clinically responsible for the safety of that patient. (So make sure that your business partner is trained to the highest standard!)

  2. Sam 2 years ago

    I am a dental therapist and have been carrying out Botox and facial fillers under the prescription of a dentist for that last 5 years. How can I become a prescriber? many thanks Sam

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 2 years ago

      Hi Sam,

      The latest Health Education England guidelines recommend that you carry on as you are, operating under the clinical supervision of a registered doctor, dentist or nurse with prescribing rights.

      To become a prescriber yourself you would probably be best served by undertaking a nursing degree, and then working hard to get onto a V300 course. Best of luck!

  3. Charlotte Bonita 1 year ago

    Ive recently qualified as an independant non medical prescriber. Im a qualified mental health nurse. Can I prescribe botox and consider setting up own business. What do i have to do?

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 1 year ago

      Hi Charlotte,

      That’s great news. You’re very well placed to start your own aesthetics business because you will be able to prescribe both botulinum toxins (e.g. Botox) and hyaluronidase (dissolving agent for fillers in case they go wrong). Before you start, you need to train on a Foundation Day. We (and the department of health) then recommend that you progress on to the full Level 7 qualification in injectables before starting your business. You will then be one of the best trained practitioners in this highly competitive market, and very well placed to suceed with your career ambitions!

      Call us on 0203 859 7598 if you’d like to discuss your plans in more detail or ask further questions 🙂

  4. Michelle Kirkland 1 year ago

    I am currently an NHS hospital doctor at middle grade without membership exams. In already perform botulinum toxin injections for spasticity management in my current role. I am now looking at leaving the NHS and considering my options. I am very interested to know if a career in aesthetics could be a possibility and the best way to start this?
    Many thanks

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 1 year ago

      Hi Michelle,

      Aesthetics allows you to transition into a new field without wasting your medical training. However, make sure that it’s right for you. Read about it and consider your options. A great general website for this kind of info is Medic Footprints. They have a conference soon that will display a range of alternative career options for doctors, including aesthetics but also other things: acw2017.medicfootprints.org

      Check out their website. If aesthetics appeals, you can try a Foundation Day first. Or if you’re sure it’s the career for you and you really want to place yourself at the top of the industry then start the full level 7 course!

  5. Nicky Fisher 1 year ago

    I’m a registered adult nurse and ive recently completed the v300 course. I am booked in to complete a 2 day Botox and dermal fillers course and would like to start my own aesthetics business. How long will I have to work within this area before I can prescribe for my clients?

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 1 year ago

      If you already have a V300 then you are perfectly placed to prescribe already, provided you act within the remit of your training (i.e. you just need to do the course first). Feel free to call 0203 859 7598 if you have any further questions — we love answering questions!

  6. Nicky 1 year ago


    I am a qualified pharmacist, am I able to complete this course?

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 1 year ago

      Hi Nicky,

      If you are registered with the GPhC, then very much so! Please contact us on 0203 859 7598 to discuss your options.

  7. Anna 1 year ago

    Hi I am a GMC registered physicians currently a junior doctor. I would like to start an aesthetic business on the side as I love dermatology. Can you please guide as how I can start this venture. I look forward for your response thank you

  8. Chloe Webber 10 months ago

    Hi Anna

    I am currently working as a management consultant, so very much a different industry to other trainee medics posting. However, my interest has always been within the medical field and I am considering retraining and persuing a career within the Botox / Dermal filler space, as I’m craving higher job satisfaction than my current career. I am aware I will need to train extensively and also buddy up with a doctor / trained medic to source the Botox once trained.

    Please advice steps for a newbie into the profession to enable a successful career.

    Thank you in advance!!

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 9 months ago

      Hi Chloe,

      We get this question quite a lot. Since the regulatory landscape in aesthetics is changing towards requiring a medical background to practice injectables (Botox and fillers) I would say that your best course of action would be to either:
      1. Do an undergraduate degree in nursing or another medical professional subject (dentistry, dental therapy, dental hygiene, medicine) and then take your injectables training, or
      2. Take a course in another, less medical aesthetic procedure and see how you like it. There are many courses in skin rejuvenation or lasers. We are soon to be launching courses for non-medics, too, so sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on that, as well as the latest regulatory changes.

  9. Linda 10 months ago

    Hi Beth,
    I’m a NMC registered children’s nurse. Do you know whether or not I can legally practice on adults as an aesthetic nurse once I have completed the foundation course?

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 9 months ago

      Hi Linda, the current landscape is that provided you have an NMC number you can take the course and legally practice afterwards. Take a look at our page explaining the pros and cons of foundation training.

      Remember that as a nurse you will either need to work with a prescriber in a clinic after training, or become a nurse prescriber (via the v300) to prescribe Botox and practice independently. Call us on 0203 859 7598 if you have any questions!

  10. amy 9 months ago

    Hi Beth,
    I’m currently a medical student in the UK and I’m interested to pursue a career as an Aesthetic Doctor in the future. I was wondering if I need to go through my FY1/FY2 training before being able to practice?

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 9 months ago

      Hi Amy,
      Two points here: first, to register you’ll need your GMC number. Second, aesthetics will be a lot easier for you to practice independently in if you can prescribe. As such, our official recommendation is that you at least finish FY1.

  11. mel 8 months ago

    Hi Beth, i am currently studying a Bsc in pharmacology and i will be doing my Post grad in nursing so i can become a qualified nurse in order to pursue a career in cosmetic nursing. my question was when i apply for nursing does it matter if i do child nursing or adult nursing ? or would you prefer adult.
    Thanks look forward hearing from you.

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 7 months ago

      Hi Mel,
      Any kind of nursing should give you the solid foundation in clinical skills required to take the course, so choose the one that you enjoy the most. Who knows, you might end up with a dual career 🙂

  12. Hinza 6 months ago

    Hi, I am currently a student in a university. I am majoring in pre law but have always been interested in plastic surgery, cosmetology, etc. I was thinking about switching to pre med to become a plastic surgeon but that would take quite some time. However, I am interested in opening up my own aesthetics clinic in the future and would know how I should get started into this business.

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 6 months ago

      Hi Hinza,
      Like all the good things in life, aesthetics can take some time to get into, but it’s worth it in the end. If you want to do aesthetic medicine as a career it’s increasingly important that you take a medical, nursing or dentistry degree at undergraduate level as this will equip you with the clinical skills to treat safely, and will be robust against increasing regulations on who can perform botulinum toxin and filler injections. Certainly worth thinking about seriously before you graduate as only the first degree gets funding 🙂

  13. Cara 4 months ago

    Im a qualified registered nurse of 6 years working in the NHS and I qualified under the nursing diploma. Am I elibable to do the level 7 course?

  14. Abi 1 month ago

    I am a registered children’s nurse- would I be able to complete th foundation course?
    Is there a specific amount of time you need to be qualified for in order to take part?

    • Author
      Beth L. Swingler 1 month ago

      Hi Abi,
      As long as you are fully qualified and registered with the NMC, then you will be eligible for both our Foundation and Level 7 courses in Botulinum Toxins and Dermal fillers. If you’re serious a career in aesthetics then achieving your V300 prescribing license will also be a good idea at some point, and for that you do need to have been a registered nurse for at least 3 years.

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