My background is maxillofacial surgery, which involves head and neck reconstruction. As a result of my speciality, I have always understood the role aesthetics plays in wider medicine. My move towards working full-time in aesthetics was gradual. It progressed because I wanted a greater worklife balance, and because I enjoy my work in the aesthetics field. I wanted to spend more time with my son, but also work to the best of my ability, to know that I am doing the very best I can for my patients.
TRANSITIONING TO AESTHETICS
Prior to specialising to work as a maxillofacial surgeon, I trained as a doctor and dentist. Being dually qualified meant I had a deep level of understanding about facial anatomy, which paired well with aesthetic medicine. I used to reconstruct broken jaws and cheekbones as well as facial skin cancers, so I understood how the face should look from a medical and aesthetic perspective. I was very lucky because my surgical training had taught me so much and gave me vital, transferable skills, which could be amplified to great success when treating aesthetically.
I initially started using Botox for medical treatments in the NHS, and learnt so much from the mode of action. I did further training, and slowly started treating cosmetic concerns, first focusing on muscle relaxing and lip augmentation treatments. I built my career from there, regularly undertaking training. It’s important to highlight that you’re never going to be at the pinnacle of your knowledge without regular training, especially in the constantly evolving world of aesthetics. I still undergo courses and training; there are myriad new methods and new products to explore. You can always learn from watching and trying other people’s techniques – there is tremendous benefit in working with a skilled and experienced practicioner, as well as in participating in hands-on courses.
DR PARISHA (PARIS) ACHARYA
Dr Parisha (Paris) Acharya comes from a traditional surgical background with more than 10 years’ experience as a maxillofacial surgeon. She holds degrees in both medicine and dentistry. She works alongside Dr Selena Langdon at Berkshire Aesthetics.
The biggest challenge I faced when transitioning from the NHS to private aesthetics was reducing my NHS hours. Most NHS staff work full-time, especially in surgery, so it was difficult to combine aesthetics with my surgical work, and pursue something new. I was lucky that my hospital department was able to offer me a chance to reduce my days gradually over a period of three to four years, to give me greater flexibility. So, I started slowly with word of mouth referrals, and gained more experience gradually.
I always talk to my patients about my surgical background, I know many patients feel reassured that I have such extensive medical training. I’ll tell them about my experience, and fully explain why I would recommend certain treatments. It’s important to completely discuss all options with your patients, so they can make an informed decision about what they want to achieve, be that surgical or non-surgical.
THE ROLE OF MENTORSHIP IN AESTHETICS
I think mentors are exceptionally important. It can be challenging in this industry to find someone to help guide your progress. When I worked in the NHS, I had surgical mentors who would also carry out cosmetic treatments in their private practice. This initially inspired me to consider aesthetics, and I found it exciting to share ideas and discuss challenges with them. I think this is equally important in aesthetics, especially during those initial years where you are starting to build your practice. I know of people who worked in the NHS, and who started to build a career in aesthetics. Without anyone to guide them, however, they found the industry isolating and ended up returning to the NHS. It’s a shame to lose someone to the industry for that reason, because this is such a rewarding career.
“A mentor can offer you greater confidence when you are transitioning into a new aspect of your career”
A mentor can offer you greater confidence when you are transitioning into a new aspect of your career. You may have met a few people on the courses you have attended, but it is likely they will be at a similar point in their journey to you. I have found it invaluable to speak with someone who has more experience, to discuss cases and approaches, because so much of this job is experience driven.
At the beginning of my career, I was concerned I was only offering single treatments, and wasn’t able to think about the long-term holistic outcomes for my patients. That comes with time, and talking to someone who understands the journey you are on makes the transition far easier. I work with Dr Selena Langdon at the doctor-led practice Berkshire Aesthetics. Dr Selena is a fantastic mentor, giving me the tools I need to enhance my aesthetics offerings. Her drive and dedication to her patients is incredible and I have learnt so much from her. We regularly discuss cases and I find it invaluable having a colleague I can bounce ideas and concepts off.
ADVANTAGES WHEN WORKING IN AESTHETICS
The benefits of working in aesthetics are numerous. This is such an evolving industry, there is always something new to learn and incorporate into your current offerings. I recommend doing as many training courses as possible, to learn from as many different practitioners as you can, because you gain so much experience from each person.
I have taken this approach from my time in the NHS. When you are undergoing surgical training, you learn from every consultant you work with, absorbing their techniques. Eventually you lead on a surgery, and you develop your own techniques. The same can be said for aesthetics. Learn from a number of experts, and discover what techniques you find most effective for you and your patients.
Dr Parisha Acharya and Dr Selena Langdon at Berkshire Aesthetics run Aesthetication, a programme that gives aesthetic practitioners the opportunity to gain first-hand experience from two well-established doctors alongside a range of practical treatment and business skills. Graduates of the programme will have access to ongoing alumni support as well as career and business opportunities, which will include positions in the growing Berkshire Aesthetics practice or as fully supported independent clinic owners. For more information, visit: www.aesthetication.co.uk