As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know” but, when it comes to aesthetic medicine, the Harley Academy experts have pretty much seen it all.
To expand your knowledge a little more, here are some helpful tips on the most common mistakes new injectors make and how to avoid them…
Underestimating the time needed for a thorough clinical consultation
Generally even new aesthetic practitioners will allow enough time to carry out a treatment. However, one thing they tend to underestimate is the amount of time needed at the beginning – the time needed to conduct a thorough clinical consultation.
Always give yourself plenty of time at the beginning of the appointment as this assessment will take longer than you think! Even if your patient has completed various information online ahead of time, we recommend allowing at least 45 minutes for each consultation at first.
Not trusting your gut and refusing to treat patients
When carrying out a clinical consultation, always listen to your gut instinct. Knowing when not to treat a patient is as important a decision as knowing when you should treat them. As a medical professional, your instincts should be well-developed when it comes to spotting red flags. Just because you are new to this speciality, doesn’t mean you should trust yourself any less.
In these instances, simply explain to your patient why you believe treatment is not in their best interests and, therefore, you cannot treat them. This candour, as part of a professional, and empathetic approach, will help you to build your reputation as a trustworthy, ethical injector.
Carrying out a treatment when you are unsure can lead not only to customer dissatisfaction but also to your reputation being damaged. It’s just not worth it – trust your gut!
Forgetting to aspirate
Even though you may not get a positive aspiration particularly often, it does happen. If you get in the habit of always aspirating when you’re starting out in aesthetics, it will stand you in good stead for the rest of your career.
As the award-winning injector, Dr Sophie Shotter advised us on The Aesthetics Show, “There is so much conflicting advice about aspiration out there… when starting out I would definitely advocate for aspirating every time. Make it a routine part of your practice. Only with practice and true understanding will you be able to determine when you should and shouldn’t.”
Dr Marcus Mehta agrees and believes that always aspirating as a new practitioner also teaches you good needle control and increases your ability to stay still, which are both important skills to develop.
Starting with more difficult to treat areas
Harley Academy’s director of education, Dr Kalpna Pindolia has seen many enthusiastic Level 7 graduates kick off their careers in aesthetics over the years. In her experience, newly-qualified injectors can be over-ambitious.
“Often they want to offer all the key treatments people are asking for – lip filler, dermal filler and Botox – straight away. This can lead them to start targeting the more difficult areas of the face. Really, it’s better to start with the cheeks, for instance, rather than lips which are less forgiving,” she advises.
“Build up your confidence and develop your techniques by starting with dermal fillers and botulinum toxin for roughly the first 30 patients. Once you’re seeing a steady stream of results that both you and the patients are really pleased with, you’ll feel more confident. That’s the time to tackle trickier treatments such as lip fillers.
New injectors can quickly find that working on your own can be a totally different experience to seeing patients as part of their one-to-one mentoring. This is another reason to start slow then gradually build up your confidence and treatment repertoire.”
Injecting too quickly
Take your time! When administering injectables, the slower you inject, the better chance you have of getting a good result.
“It’s safer. If you are accidentally in a blood vessel it will likely be painful so you can stop injecting. The speed means you won’t inject a large volume of product,” advises Harley Academy’s Dr Marcus Mehta. “It’s also less painful. Slow injecting means tissues fill more slowly so the pain for the patient is reduced, plus it allows you to create a smooth, lump-free result”.
Not massaging the treatment area after lip fillers
Dr Marcus Mehta is also a big fan of giving the lip area a firm massage after completing filler treatments. This can prevent lumps of filler forming and help to produce a beautiful, natural-looking result.
“A firm massage of the treatment area helps shape the results – particularly in lips. It can smooth out any filler irregularities before the patient leaves the clinic,” he notes. “For lip massage post-injection it’s important to be sterile and not touch the inside of the mouth then the injection sites for risk of infection. Deeper injections do not need massage, for example the cheeks, as you don’t want to flatten the filler here – projection is what you’re after.”
Forgetting to charge people!
When you first start out as an aesthetic practitioner, one of the biggest changes can be having to talk about money with patients.
Aesthetic nurse, Natalie Haswell – who has over 15 years of NHS nursing experience, is a Harley Academy clinical trainer and mentor and runs her own clinic – says she can still find this challenging:
“Especially being in the healthcare service, you don’t talk about money. You only maybe talk about your salary and that’s pretty set… so you’re not used to taking money, talking about money, negotiating… Still, the amount of people who walk out without having paid, because I forgot. Because all these years I’ve had a job where it’s ‘are you happy?’ ‘Yes’; ‘Okay, bye’; and you’re just pleased, in the NHS, if someone’s happy and well and going home!”
Although it may feel uncomfortable at first, this is something you will get used to. Until then, a checklist may be helpful so that you remember to discuss pricing with your patient beforehand and ask for a deposit or payment.
Not having someone to debrief with
Being a solo injector, or even working in a clinic where you are the only aesthetic practitioner can be lonely. You’re human – it’s nice to reflect and debrief with someone who understands what you’re dealing with.
Make sure you have a good support system in place, whether this is working alongside others in the same field, having a WhatsApp group with other aesthetics professionals, or being part of a professional forum such as Harley Academy’s Aesthetic Community platform.
If you choose to use public forums or groups on Facebook, for example, do bear in mind that the advice you receive is likely to be opinion-based and may not be from appropriately trained individuals.
Lastly, don’t forget to breathe. It’s good for you!