Tracey Dennison is a registered general nurse with nearly three decades of experience. She opened East Riding Aesthetics & Wellness near Hull in 2014. In addition to her clinical practice, she acts as a trainer, mentor and coach to other medical professionals new to the world of aesthetics. Tracey also has a special interest in lifestyle medicine in women’s health, for which she has undertaken specialist training and runs wellness clinics.
We have learnt so much over the last 12 months; an incredible amount, as we have lived through the historic issues and world events covid has caused. The English stiff upper lip, largely, remains firmly in place, however, our mental health is taking an absolute battering. As a result of “stay at home” orders the disease of loneliness has become much more apparent. Alongside mental health difficulties, physical health issues have also proliferated. We’ve seen climbing alcohol consumption and a large increase in the amount of comfort food we take on board. As a result, there are many expanding waistbands around the country. People have struggled with their ability to exercise as they would normally choose as options have been very limited with gyms closed and group sports and activities banned.
“What we now need to consider in addition is how we support our patients who have struggled with all of the stresses and strains brought on by lockdown”
Our body clocks have become used to different routines; sleeping times have become chaotic and have suffered because of the massive amounts of stress people are experiencing… all down to covid. With all these issues becoming prevalent behind the scenes while our needles were resting, can we really ignore the wider scale of this impact when we start injecting again?
I think it’s unlikely that we are ever going to be back in a position where people pop into clinic for just a smoothing of a few lines and wrinkles or a quick lift or volumisation here and there. Over the last few months many of us in the aesthetic industry have taken the opportunity to increase our understanding and learning. We have begun to diversify as health professionals, beyond our injectable clinics. This has a massive benefit of being able to offer our patients a holistic aesthetic experience.
Moving forwards, it seems sensible to take these more rounded approaches with us. Education always has been and always should be a vital part of what we offer our patients – lifestyle advice has long been part of the service in aesthetics. We know that excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and other poor lifestyle choices will have a negative effect on the results of our aesthetic treatments. What we maybe now need to consider in addition is how we support our patients who have struggled with all of the stresses and strains brought on by lockdown, to care both for their physical and emotional health (for those of us who are trained and qualified to do so). Bringing these elements into our practice makes complete sense and provides our patients with a resource of so much more depth and value than before.
There are many recent developments in the world of lifestyle medicine, such as how when we eat is often just as important as what we eat and the health impact surrounding this.¹ There is a massive amount of research on the benefits of resetting our body (circadian) clock and how this can support our overall health and improve our immune system. A very recent study speculates on the application of this thinking to the covid challenge and how this has the potential to improve outcomes for those affected by the virus.² The human microbiome also has significant impacts on our health and wellness. It’s a massive subject and one such study discusses in some detail the impact of a healthy human microbiome and how we can best support this.³
Imagine if patients could go into one clinic to receive information and treatment for aesthetics, but also relating to:
• Nutrition – Guidance on what (and when) to eat has the potential to have a massive impact on patients who need this kind of support. Good nutrition will improve their skin health, aesthetic treatment outcomes and mood.
• Weight management – So many people have struggled with their weight over the last year. After many of the pleasures in life were taken away, food is one of the few we still have (and alcohol – which has also become an issue for some). There are more and more emerging strategies for weight management, (note some require appropriate CQC registration) and for me, medication should never be first line. Successful programmes and strategies can have a huge positive impact on our patients in this area.
• Exercise – Teaming up with a personal trainer, therapist or yoga expert, etc. can offer real value to your patients. If they already like, know and trust you, a carefully selected multi-disciplinary referral programme could pay dividends.
• Female health issues – Anti-natal, postnatal and perimenopause onwards; the potential to support here is substantial either by training up or referring appropriately.
• Men’s health issues – An often-neglected area which has the potential to offer real benefits. We know that men are often less inclined to discuss their health concerns than women but often, a clinic environment helps to remove some of those barriers and allows for honest conversations to be held. The potential here is considerable.
Developing relationships (and our own multi-disciplinary teams) in order to help manage many of the difficulties our patients are experiencing has got to be so much better than them having to see a multitude of different professionals to manage their wellness issues. Within the aesthetics world we have the unique opportunity to be able to support our patients in so many more ways than we ever have before. I genuinely believe it’s time for us to step up with the right training, with the right support networks and with the right mentoring, because none of us should be advising, supporting or offering treatments or services in areas where we are not suitably trained and qualified to practice.
Of course, there is wellness beyond physical health to consider as well. Mindset coaching has become an integral part of how some clinics help support their patients. While this is a less regulated area, there is some evidence to support that when done well, the positive impacts can be tremendous.
A study⁴ demonstrated the benefits of a growth mindset within the workplace and found that, in their comparative analysis, “Growth-minded managers consistently displayed more frequent use of leadership behaviours than did their fixed-mindset counterparts; and this relationship was independent of demographic or organisational factors.” This gives just a small insight into the benefit we could achieve for our patients – and ourselves – with the right input and support. Anecdotally, mindset coaching has been revolutionary and literally life changing for both patients and professionals, and who wouldn’t want some of that?
“Bringing these elements into our practice makes complete sense and provides our patients with a resource of so much depth and value than before”
So, what might this brave new world look like? Commonly, there are a number of areas holistic aesthetics can support, all linking heavily with lifestyle issues. If this interests you, I really recommend becoming part of a group or organisation where proper qualified advice and support is available. There are several out there, but one example is a group called Lifestyle Medicine – The Professionals on Facebook. Dr Dimi Vichas leads this initiative with the vision of “uniting different professionals in the health industry and sharing knowledge and experience around lifestyle medicine… to talk about all aspects of health optimisation from the inside out. “To really address the health challenges our population is facing we need to turn our focus to prevention, reversal and cure of disease; and lifestyle medicine may just offer the solutions we are seeking,” he explains.
The demographic of your patients would be a great indicator of where else to focus your efforts. Being able to support patients beyond the injectable aesthetic remit has allowed many clinics to not only survive the challenges posed by a global pandemic, but has allowed them to flourish. It’s amazing to have been able to keep in touch with patients throughout this phase, to help them through this really difficult time and offer real solutions to their health issues, using the technology that we are blessed with.
To support patients in these very trying times is not only a good business move, but a privilege and a joy. If nothing else, covid has taught us that we need to be flexible in order to meet the needs of our patients. Working within the restrictions imposed upon us, and of course, within our sphere of competence, we have a real opportunity to grow and develop going forwards.
1. Hatori, M. & Panda, S., 2014. Response of peripheral rhythms to the timing of food intake. Meth. Enzymol., Volume 552, pp. 146-161.
2. Haspel, J. K. M. Z. P. S. T. M. S. P. S. A. A. M. M., 2021. A Timely Call to Arms: COVID-19, the Circadian Clock, and Critical Care.. Journal of Biological Rhythms.
3. Allana, C., 2015. 10% Human. London: Collins. 4. Tae Kyung Kouzes, B. Z. P., 2019. Influence of managers’ mindset on leadership behavior. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 40(8), pp. 829-844.