Dr Vikram Swaminathan is Head of Clinical Mentoring at Harley Academy and Academic Lead at the British College of Aesthetic Medicine. When he’s not mentoring Harley Academy’s level 7 students, Dr Vikram is travelling around the country working as doctor for motorsport events, and working as an honorary teaching fellow at the Universtiy of Liverpool Medical School. We caught up with Dr Vikram to answer some commonly asked questions.
To read our Q&A transcripts with Harley Academy founder Dr Tristan Metha please click here.
How Did You Get into Aesthetic Medicine?
I was previously training in Surgery, as I’d always had an interest in anatomy which developed over my years at medical school. Before I decided to become a doctor I was into drawing, art and design. Once I realised I was interested in pursuing the combination of the two, aesthetics was the ideal fit!
You’ve got a student coming to your clinic for their first ever clinical mentoring session. What two key pieces of advice would you give them before they deliver their first treatments.
My most important piece of advice would be to only do what you feel comfortable doing. Every experienced aesthetic clinician has to start somewhere, so do what you feel competent to do in the session.
Don’t be afraid to seek help when you don’t understand. It’s always best to ask more questions than not enough! Seek help and advice from your practitioner throughout the mentoring session. It’s best to be safe instead of making a mistake.
How would you advise practitioners go about informing patients that it would be unwise to receive treatment?
If you deem a patient to be unsuitable for treatment, you should not feel forced to treat them. You can always say no, aesthetic treatments are not life-saving emergency interventions. I would advise practitioners to be honest, and tell the patient they cannot help them or are unsuitable for treatment.
On the same topic, what are some red flags which indicate that a patient might be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder
I’ve seen patients overly concerned with defects to the extent that it interferes with their daily activities. Sometimes patients might believe they have an imaginary aesthetic defect, and I’ve had instances where I cannot even see what the patient is concerned about.
If patients do not have any other diagnoses to explain their behaviour it’s important to clearly think about whether further treatment is advisable. During your mentoring sessions with Harley Academy your mentor will be on hand to advise you on any difficult circumstances.
“During your mentoring sessions with Harley Academy your mentor will be on hand to advise you on any difficult circumstances.”
Have you seen attitudes towards aesthetics practice change amongst experienced cosmetic clinicians since the release of the HEE Guidelines? If so, how?
Yes. There is an increased awareness and understanding that aesthetic medicine is a speciality and that it requires a postgraduate level of training. No longer is a one-day course the standard in the aesthetics industry. More and more people are starting to take an interest in keeping up with the latest techniques and news in aesthetics, and even experienced practitioners are seeking to learn new techniques in advanced mentoring classes.
I’m seeing trends developing with practitioners new to aesthetics too. Many new students are looking to further and deepen their knowledge of aesthetics before starting to practice, and are placing an extremely high value on practical experience.
Where do you see the aesthetics industry in ten years time?
With aesthetic medicine as a recognised speciality, and with a standardised training programme in place. We’re already starting to make steps in the right directions with the level 7 qualification and HEE guidelines, and I hope more and more people decide to train to level 7 standard. I’d love to see practitioners having to complete several years of training to fully become a specialist in aesthetic medicine, and closer ties formed with the developing field of regenerative medicine where there is the potential to heal and perhaps reverse the signs of skin ageing.
And finally, what’s your favourite treatment to perform?
Facial contouring – cheeks and chins! I also enjoy a good under eye rejuvenation!