Written by: Mary Cunningham
NBC’s story about the major consequences of seemingly minor facial treatments calls our attention to a scary but true scenario- doctors you trust for significant care in certain areas of your life –from dentistry to internal medicine–are not likely the best option to administer facial fillers or Botox. But until you know what qualifications to look for, you may be swayed to get an enhancement at the hands of a Botox novice.
To gain some perspective on what we should look for when considering Botox and other facial fillers, Michael C. Edwards, MD, FACS, the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery gives us the basics on why credentials matter, even for routine aesthetic enhancements.
Mary Joan Cunningham: What have you seen as the most common negative results when someone receives Botox from an unqualified medical professional?
Dr. Edwards: The goal of Botox treatment is to relax the specific facial muscles in a manner to soften lines from muscle action and even lift the eyebrows a bit with proper placement. Treatment by an unqualified injector can lead to dropping the eyebrows, one or both sides, making some patients feel they look worse than they did before. Also, treating too close to the mid eyebrow can lead to a sagging or lazy eyelid called ptosis. These things can happen in the hands of a qualified injector, but I think you can feel confident the incidence will be rare.
Mary Joan Cunningham: Dr. Edwards, in your post about the difference between cosmetic and plastic surgeons, you explained that plastic surgeons receive far more training and have a deep knowledge of their specialization. While we understand why that is important when undergoing major surgery, does that carry a benefit for those only seeking Botox or fillers?
Dr. Edwards: Botox treatment should not be equated with surgery and although the laws differ state to state, there are differing levels of injectors (nurses to physicians of different specialties). If a doctor goes to a weekend course to bring this into their practice as a financial supplement, they should have a solid knowledge of the anatomy and action of the treatment administered. They should also have an understanding of potential risks and possible complications so they can recognize and treat these if they were to occur.
Mary Joan Cunningham: With that in mind, should patients seek out a member of ASAPS when choosing who to administer Botox injections?
Dr. Edwards: They can be rest assured that members of ASAPS have a detailed and comprehensive training about facial anatomy. Patients should feel confident seeking care from a board-certified plastic surgeon, facial plastic surgeon, occuloplastic surgeon and dermatologist.
Mary Joan Cunningham: What do you hope that those curious about Botox will take away from this interview?
Dr. Edwards: That they will realize Botox is a medication with intended positive effects. There are virtually millions of very happy and satisfied patients who undergo treatment every 3-6 months. Everyone should do their homework and seek out care from a properly trained and credentialed board-certified plastic surgeon, facial plastic surgeon, occuloplastic surgeon or dermatologist.
Not all health care professionals administering Botox have the same credentials and experience with facial muscles. Remember, this is the only face you have. Choose wisely.