Aesthetic medicine is a broad term that applies to any specialty that involves the process of modifying a patient's physical appearance. Either to enhance a person's face and body, or decrease the risk of certain types of diseases including obesity.
It is medical scope that includes dermatology and surgical practices, starting from non-invasive treatments such as laser treatments to invasive procedures such as reconstructive surgeries.
Some of the most popular treatments under aesthetic medicine are:
Reconstructive surgery - The goal of reconstructive surgery is twofold; first, it aims to revert the appearance of a particular part of the body that may have been damaged by disease, malpractice, or trauma. These include women who have their breasts removed during a mastectomy or a person with significant burns. Second, it can improve the body part's function, although it's not always a guarantee. For example, new breasts may no longer be able to produce milk while treated skin burns may increase a patient's mobility.
Physical surgery – Physical surgery is an in-depth procedure that is done on the body, particularly the face, with the sole purpose of enhancing the appearance. Under these are fat removal methods such as liposuction and tummy tuck (which can be partial or complete). Others are to reduce skin laxity, which normally happens as a person ages. Surgeries these days have already become less invasive, which means they involve fewer cuts and risks such as infection, long recovery, and bleeding. To perform these, aesthetic medicine specialists often use scopes such as laparoscope and other new technologies.
Non-invasive procedures – These kind of aesthetic medicine practices can boost the physical appearance without the need for general anesthesia and surgery. Good examples are chemical peeling, skin tightening and photorejuvenation, hair and tattoo removal, and treatment of skin blemishes and conditions including moles, hyperpigmentation, acne, and scars. Meanwhile, some of the technologies that are under non-invasive procedures are Botox injections that use a purified form of toxin that helps relax the muscles and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, dermal fillers that create more defined contours and smoothen wrinkles, and microdermabrasion crystals that lift dead skin cells to stimulate the production of new ones.
Aesthetic specialists also need to have a deep understanding and knowledge on fitness, nutrition, use of lasers and other similar technologies, medications, and analgesia, to name a few. Patients are expected to counsel, especially since many procedures can lead to significant change in appearance, and provide the much-needed medical care all throughout the process, including pre- and post-operative care.
Existing doctors, nurses, and other healthcare specialists can join the field. Aesthetic medicine is still considered a new medical specialty, and thus, there's no definite certification or certification board for it. Some, however, have decided to limit the kinds of doctors they admit, usually based on the geographical area of practice, to establish a more comprehensive unifying standard in the profession.
You may consider seeing an aesthetic medicine specialist if you:
Are seeing the physical signs of aging – Aesthetic medicine also falls under anti-aging medicine since it deals with the common signs associated with increased age, such as skin laxity as the body reduces the production of collagen, a fiber protein that provides support to the skin tissue, and slow metabolism, which can lead to excessive, unwanted fat.
Want to boost your self-esteem – Aesthetic medicine can help improve the mental and social capabilities of patients. A better physical appearance often enhances mood, increases self-confidence, and leads to better self-satisfaction.
Have undergone trauma that have affected your appearance – Violence and accidents can create traumatic injuries on the body that may be so severe they can lead to disfigurement, amputation (loss of limb), or significant decrease in body function. Burns, for example, can contract the skin, limiting the movements of the limbs.
Are diagnosed with certain medical conditions – Aesthetic medicine can be considered as a preventive or management measure for certain medical conditions that can potentially change the patient's physical appearance. These include cancer, diabetes, obesity, hormonal imbalances, hyperhidrosis, hirsutism, allergies, and autoimmune diseases like lupus and psoriasis.