Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner and Clinic Owner; Sara Cheeney walks us through her experience of re-opening her clinic doors to the public, and working to the government guidelines of treating patients for urgent medical reasons only, so how is aesthetic medicine looking like right now? we caught with up with Sara to find out..
Since being given the green light to open our clinic doors at Pure Perfection Clinic, as Government guidelines, we are grateful to be returning, but we know there is much confusion as to why we (Medical Aesthetic Clinics) can open, yet beauty clinics and treatments cannot resume just yet.
When the outbreak of Covid-19, a highly infectious disease originating in China, happened earlier in March this year- it fast became classified as a worldwide pandemic, and on the 23rd March, the UK government announced a full lockdown was to ensue to protect the nation and thus prevent a huge strain on our NHS.
Non-essential Businesses were subsequently closed, and most of the population was thrust into a world they could have not imagined possible in our lifetime. None of us anticipated that we would have to cease operation and close our businesses with immediate effect, and it was unclear until very recently, for exactly how long this would last.
Unfortunately, along with most of the industry, the impact has been huge on us- but we must now choose to use it as an opportunity to grow. I am a mother of 2, a medically trained nurse practitioner in Aesthetics, and owner of Pure Perfection Clinic in North Wales, and proudly awarded Aesthetic Nurse of the Year at the Safety in Beauty Awards 2019.
There have been many trials and tribulations that have come with running a business and for me on a personal level too. Overcoming all these situations life dealt me, only made me bounce back with a passion and drive stronger than ever before. Having suffered with psoriasis at a young age, I have always had a keen interest in skin health and understanding how we can treat skin conditions. This was the starting point of my journey of becoming dual trained as a nurse and a beauty therapist. I am a medical professional and have been a nurse practitioner since 2003 performing all the medical grade treatments from injecting to skin tightening and prescription skin treatments and peel. During the lockdown I did not take any time off and instead, chose to see this situation as a huge opportunity to get things underway.
It enabled me to get organised, restructure clinic operations and update all our internal standards of practice to ensure our modus operandi is even better than it was before.
We are all about Safety and treating patients holistically based on clinical research. I was able to adapt my service so that I could offer consultations and skin reviews from home supporting patients already on a skin journey and also advising new patients who felt their skin was troubling them in lockdown.
We provided a postal service to deliver skin care products with a full treatment plan directly to our client’s door, which has seen an increase in sales and home care kits working effectively. I have recorded training webinars for people within the industry, reached out to colleagues who need support, not only for patients with skin concerns, but also on a personal level to support them through the effects of the pandemic.
One aspect I have really enjoyed is speaking online on many live talks. These were held both for patients with regards to skin topics and to industry professionals about treatment technology. More recently I have given advice on how to re-open safely post Covid-19. To keep in touch with my team and clients during the lockdown,
I created a private Facebook group community so that our patients could reach out to us, and I wanted to inspire and keep them motivated with skin tips and at home skin treatments. It has been a huge success and I have loved every minute with all our team posting daily tips for patients.
I have decided to reopen, as we are a medical clinic, and I have carried out all safety checks and risk assessments required. I feel that my clinic is one of the safest places’ patients can visit, and even before the outbreak of Covid-19 we maintained the highest level of safety and standards. We have gone above and beyond to ensure the protection of our patients, from having a health and safety inspection and a deep clean and full overhaul of the clinic.
The staff have completed the WHO online training and have ran through a mock-up of how to operate at the clinic under these new guidelines, with a full demonstration by me. I have reached out to other clinics to offer my support by sharing my policies and procedures and email correspondence with patients, and I have spoken with clinics on the phone to offer support and reassurance.
I have also been there for our patients, even by just checking in on the phone to say hello. It has been a difficult time for everybody recently, with no clear guidelines, and the green light go ahead for some businesses to reopen but not others. I feel for you all as I am also with you and feeling the strain, but we really are all in this together. Here in Wales we can open our medical clinics on Monday 13th with beauty treatments allowed to resume the following week on the 27th.
Unlike most, I have both businesses and I am dual trained as a nurse and a beauty therapist. Although there are differences between the two specialities, there are similarities, and this highlights the need for clearer standards and career pathways within the industry. As mentioned earlier, I am a medical professional and have been a nurse practitioner since 2003. I perform all the medical grade treatments from injecting to skin tightening and peel.
I also have assistants in the clinic called Aestheticians- who perform medical grade facials on my patients, but I would like to stress here how this role is completely different to the role of a beauty therapist. Aestheticians have lengthy and ongoing training and are supervised by the medical director.
We have decided to re-open as the medical model which is something we have always practiced in clinic. The clinic does not allow anyone in for treatment without a prior consultation, and whilst the pandemic is ongoing, we are still doing those online until we feel it is safe to do them face to face. This will be re-assessed in August. I feel that anyone entering the aesthetics industry should do so with a passion for skin and cosmetic dermatology. Too many are undergoing 1-day courses and then identifying as an expert in the field on their social media platforms. Becoming a safe and ethical practitioner takes years of hard work and training, again re-iterating the need for better regulations within the teaching sector who offer these absurd 1-day courses. 1-day courses are fantastic to utilise as refreshers, but it is just not acceptable as the only form of training.
The reason that medical clinics can re-open is that medical professionals are qualified with the knowledge to treat complications that can occur during or after treatment. Here are some examples of medical aesthetic treatments we are mostly carrying out. Botox for excessive sweating and migraines and fillers for asymmetry and for sudden weight-loss.
We often see patients after illness or having gone through severe stress or bereavement with the need to improve their low self-esteem and lift their depression- these are the patients who will also be coming into the clinic and for these reasons.
Treatments for skin diseases and disorders – rosacea, acne, melasma, post inflammatory hyper pigmentation, body dysmorphia- these conditions have a huge impact on mental health and for those who were not able to have treatment due to Covid-19, this has caused a huge impact on them too, not to mention the overall impact on everybody’s mental health by not being able to go out and socialise.
Covid-19 has affected us all as a community, as a nation, worldwide- in so many ways. I have had conversations with many of my patients at the depths of despair and in tears during lockdown.
We have therefore carefully analysed each aspect of our practice and made this decision to re-open based on all of the above combined. It has been hard work preparing and ensuring the clinic is safe and ready to welcome our patients once again, but we are incredibly lucky to have industry associations that have helped us with standards and structure, to finally re-open our Clinic doors.