'I speak with surgeons regularly. Here are 8 things I’ve learnt about cosmetic treatments.'

As Mamamia's health and beauty writer, a large part of my job involves nagging experts on the daily. A lotta different experts, who absolutely have full-time jobs, but are always kind enough to lend me their brains. From dermatologists and GPs to heart surgeons and psychologists - you name it.

One of my most favourite bunch to speak with? Surgeons. Specifically, aesthetic surgeons.

Why? Because the cosmetic industry can be confusing. Scary. Dangerous. And lots of people want to know what treatment does what, and what they should look out for.

Watch: SBS programme Insight looks at the growing popularity of cosmetic procedures such as anti-wrinkle injections and fillers. Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia.

Over the years I've learnt many useful things about the medical aesthetic industry, the advancements in non-surgical and surgical technology and some of the most popular treatments available. 

So, I thought I'd share them with you.

Here's some of the best expert-approved advice I've learnt from speaking with aesthetic experts regularly.

1. Plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons are different.

It's easy to get confused about the differences between plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons - but this is a really important one - because they're not the same thing. In fact, they're very different. 

Plastic surgeons go through extensive specialist training through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and they specialise in all aspects of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. 

However, right now, anyone with a medical degree can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon. 

This doesn't mean all cosmetic surgeons are bad - or that you won't have any complications with plastic surgeons - it just means it's not always easy to know what to look for when it comes to qualifications and experience.

In an article with Mamamia, Dr Yumiko Kadota broke it down for us: "It can be very difficult for potential patients to make decisions about where to go for cosmetic surgery, because there are many practitioners that offer it, with varying degrees of skill and experience," she explained.

Dr Kadota advised to be wary of fluffy marketing tactics, free or heavily discounted cosmetic surgery or injectables and to understand informed and educated consent.

"Patients must understand what they are signing up for and be aware of what could go wrong," she said.


Most experts advised to look for three key things before deciding on a surgeon, including recognised clinical experience and qualifications, word of mouth from someone you know, and 'before and after' images of their work. 

2. Every procedure has its risks - including injectables.

Fact: Medical procedures are not the same as non-invasive beauty procedures. It's important to understand that every single procedure has its risks (yes, even injectables) - because nothing is completely risk free. 

As we touched on above, so many experts have taught me the importance of educating yourself and being armed with the right information before getting anything done, so you can make the best possible choice for you.

These days procedures like injectables are so common, but a lot of professionals say that people tend to not be aware of the risks. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of possible complications, and knowing what to expect before, during and after a procedure is so crucial.

For injectables, this includes risk of bruising and bleeding, blocked blood vessels (known as vascular occlusion), infection and even permanent blindness. Yep, it can be that serious.

3. Anti-wrinkle injections don't work immediately. 

Anti-wrinkle injections aren't the kind of thing you duck in to get right before a party or a big event. 

In an article on anti-wrinkle injection myths, Dr Imaan Joshi told Mamamia, "Occasionally a patient will reach out wanting to know if we can squeeze her in 'today or tomorrow' due to an important event coming up in three to four days, for which she wants to look fresh."

"Most anti-wrinkle injections on the market at present take anywhere from three to five days to begin to take effect and peak at approximately two weeks. This is when I tend to offer new patients a review, so we can determine if the effect is what they desired, and to determine the correct dose for future treatments."

4. Fillers can't lift the skin or erase wrinkles.

According to our experts, this is one of THE most common requests patients make when asking for more filler. However, despite what you might have heard, dermal fillers cannot actually 'get rid of wrinkles' or sagging skin.

In an article on dermal filler myths, Dr Joshi shared with me, "In a volume-depleted person, when we add filler, we are replacing lost volume and restoring sagging, deflated tissue back to where it belongs."

"As a result of this, a subtle lift is apparent - not because we have done any lifting, but because we are lifting skin folds back to their correct anatomical position.

"With this in mind, we simply cannot restore a 45 or a 50 or a 60-year-old face to one in its 20s or 30s with its cherubic qualities."

So, there you have it!

5. Fillers don't always dissolve after 12 months.

If you thought all fillers dissolved after 12 months, you're not alone. According to experts I've interviewed, different fillers tend to naturally dissolve at different speeds - while some dermal fillers last for six to 12 months, others can last for two to five years. Yep - two to five years. 

Meaning? A lot of people are probably getting top-ups when they don't... need it.


"We are beginning to see filler that has been in place for years at a time, after being told by companies that it only lasted six to 12 months, and would need top-ups to stay viable every six to 12 months," Dr Joshi shared with us.

"Over time, some of this filler accumulates by being added to every six months - or in very mobile areas such as lips and around the eyes, it moves (i.e. migrates) into different areas."

Enter: a 'shelf' or 'moustache' above the lips, or lumps under the eyes or even around the cheeks. 

"Occasionally, if the wrong type of filler is used in an area of the face, it can lead to a puffy appearance, or conversely, a highly structured look in an area that does not need it - for example the cheeks. This can lead to a 'peanut head' appearance in the temples, which look hollow by comparison."

The more you know...

6. Breast implants don't last for life.

In an article on botched breast surgeries, Dr Anand Deva told me that often many women aren't aware of the full risks and complications of breast implants.

"It's important that women understand that these devices are not lifetime devices. It is a 100 per cent certainty that they are signing up for future surgeries to both implants and their breasts," he said.

"We perform between three to five implant removals a week across our two centres in Sydney. It is interesting to note that for the first time the number of implants going in has fallen, whilst there has been a significant increase in the number of implant removal worldwide."

7. Never jump into anything.

Almost every expert I've spoken to always stresses the need for patients to make sure the clinic they are going to has some sort of 'cooling off' period after attending their first consultation. You never want to go right into it will-nilly, yeah?

A cooling-off period will usually give you the time to take all the information in, and think of any other questions you might have before giving the green flag. 

Remember, treatments like injectables are medical procedures and the decision shouldn't be taken lightly.

8. Stay away from dodgy 'discount' clinics.

I know we've touched on this earlier, and it goes without saying, but while it's everyone's choice what they do to with their own face and body and where they choose to get cosmetic work done, all the medical experts I speak to always strongly advise staying clear from those flashy discount chain clinics and Groupon deals.

So, just be cautious of this. That clinic around the corner may advertise some really competitive prices - but it's your health we're talking about. And you can't put a price on that.

Have you had a cosmetic treatment before? What have you learnt? Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature Image: Getty.

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