Regular viewers of The Aesthetics Show will know that our winter season explores how experienced aesthetics practitioners built their practices. We interview some of the UK industry’s biggest names to bring you invaluable insider tips on forging a successful and lucrative career in aesthetics.
Episode three of our YouTube Live series features aesthetic medicine career advice from Dr Sophie Shotter.
Dr Shotter is a highly sought-after skin and injectables specialist who left her position as an anaesthetist in the NHS in 2014. She has since established her own clinic in Kent, a thriving practice in London and an excellent reputation for achieving natural-looking results.
Starting your career in aesthetic medicine
Dr Shotter spoke with Harley Academy founder and CEO Dr Tristan Mehta and our Medical Director, Dr Emily MacGregor. Here are some extracts from their conversation that we believe you’ll find particularly insightful…
Dr Mehta: Most practitioners find they are essentially working as technicians. The tipping point comes when we start consulting our patients properly. It changes the whole dynamic and you start practicing as a specialist.
You offer a full bandwidth of aesthetics treatments now, from skin interventions and devices to injectables. Did you ever feel like you were practicing on a superficial level then built up? Or did you start at the deep end?
Dr Shotter: A little bit of both. To begin with my main practice was injectables and skin and I invested in Thermavein and Coolsculpting, which was a big investment for a startup. I wouldn’t do it again but I made it work.
I knew there was more to consider than just down to the neck; I did make some big investments to start with that let me do things in more depth than just offering topline injectables.
Along the way my practice changed and expanded in so many different directions. I saw my patients were coming to me when they were feeling rubbish about themselves – postnatal, peri-menopausal. This led me to get into bioidentical hormones. I wanted to be able to help them on every level. How I practice, how my clinic practices has changed a lot.
Investing in devices for your aesthetics practice
Dr Mehta: What gave you the courage to invest in devices early on?
Dr Shotter: If I invest in something, it’s going to be the best technologically and scientifically. I did my research. I knew Coolsculpting was great but I was missing a database and marketing. If I was to do it again, I’d base my practice on topline injectables and skin. I would maybe have bought the Thermavein – it’s an easy sell as it’s more affordable and we often see thread veins – but Coolsculpting is a harder one.
Developing relationships with journalists
Dr Mehta: We often see you in the media. What’s your secret sauce for PR?
Dr Shotter: I have a brilliant brand director who looks after the press side of things for me. I trust her. She’s a relationship person and has great relationships with lots of great journalists. It boils down to relationships and it doesn’t happen overnight. When you’re putting in the work, there’s a lag before you see results.
Can you have a successful part time career in aesthetics?
Dr MacGregor: You completed your aesthetic medicine training and started your practice part time whilst also working in the NHS. What do you think about full time versus part time in aesthetics? When’s the right time to switch from part time to full time? Or can you have a significantly successful part time aesthetics career?
Dr Shotter: Having a salary is a safety net and giving that up is a risk. I always knew I could work as a locum so I had a backup. I tried to take a sabbatical but it was denied. The door was left open for me if I wanted to leave and come back, although I would need to interview again. I will take risks, but they’ll be measured risks. I had a database when I left the NHS for a full time aesthetics career – it wasn’t huge. I did a lot of research. I think to do two careers to the best of your ability can be difficult.
Seizing opportunities will help you find your own path
Dr Mehta: What’s your top tip for anyone who’s just starting their career in aesthetics?
Dr Shotter: Seize any opportunity that comes your way, from webinars and conferences to a chance to spend an afternoon with someone experienced in a clinic. Expose yourself to different people – everyone works differently – you’ll find your own path. Don’t just do a course. Push yourself. Take the opportunities. When you do, you’ll find yourself and it’s really rewarding.
For more tips, insights and advice on starting a career as an aesthetic doctor and building a successful practice, subscribe to the Harley Academy YouTube channel. There, you’ll be able to set reminders for each episode of The Aesthetics Show featuring injectors who’ve had particularly interesting careers. Additionally, you’ll be able to watch injectables demonstrations live from Harley Academy’s London training clinic.
Harley Academy is the UK’s largest aesthetic medicine training provider. The Aesthetics Show airs live on the Harley Academy YouTube channel every Tuesday at 7pm #TheAestheticsShow