Patient safety is important for all medical practitioners and all medical procedures, and this includes using authorized and authentic products which are manufactured in a clean environment with high quality standards.
Singapore is well known for our high standards of healthcare and the medical industry is being regulated by a strict regulatory body – Ministry of Health (MOH). Any medical devices or health products that are brought into Singapore must go through rigorous assessment and approval by Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
However, there are times where unauthorized personals carry out medical procedures illegally using counterfeit products. We find out from our medical director, Dr. Lam Bee Lan, on the importance of going to registered healthcare practitioners and using authorized products. Read on to find out more on how consumers can play an active role in verifying and using products that are authorized.
There has certainly been an increase in the number of aesthetic injectable procedures in recent years. The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) conducted a global survey on the number of aesthetic treatments performed worldwide in 2019 and found that there was a total of over 13 million nonsurgical procedures performed worldwide, of which over 10 million were injectable procedures. The survey showed that the total number of nonsurgical procedures increased by 7.6% compared to 2018 with an increase of 8.6% of injectable procedures.
The survey also found that the top 5 procedures were botulinum toxin, hyaluronic acid filler injections, hair removal, nonsurgical fat reduction and photo rejuvenation. The most popular treatment is botulinum toxin and it is the most popular amongst those aged 35-50.
Another survey by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) in 2019 has found that some of the top reasons for getting aesthetic treatments are due to a higher emphasis on appearance, rising awareness and the easy availability of such products and procedures. Participants of the survey indicated that they want to feel more confident, appear more attractive and look younger than their age. The survey also found that the top 3 factors influencing consumers’ decisions to explore aesthetic treatments are dermatologists, friends and social media. The top 3 platforms are in this order – Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has initially caused a negative impact on the aesthetic industry, remote working has increased time spent on Zoom calls and people are paying attention to their appearance and resulting in an increase for aesthetic treatments with botulinum toxin as one of the most popular treatment. Additionally, it is easier for patients to recover while staying in and this has also caused an increase during the lockdown.
As medical doctors, to evaluate if products are safe, we must first ensure that the products are obtained from official manufacturers with certifications from various regulators such as most commonly – US FDA approval (USA), CE Mark (Europe), and locally – the HSA. To get these certifications, these products and medical devices are backed by robust clinical studies.
In my clinical practice, prior to bringing in a product or medical device, we would look at the research done to ensure that the claims are backed by science. I would also request for a trial period where we try out the treatments, witness the results and make sure that there are no complications before we bring them into the clinic to treat the patients.
Our medical clinic and medi-spa are built on the 3 pillars – safety, science and beauty, to ensure that the treatments and medical devices that we bring to the clinic are safe and scientifically proven to work to make our patients look good and natural and feel more confident of themselves.
We have all heard of horror stories and read news about blotched jobs done by unauthorized personnel, some may be beauticians or foreign doctors performing illegal aesthetic treatments such as botulinum toxin or fillers injections in unclean hotel rooms. This is extremely dangerous as not only are the injectables used be unauthorized, these people are also not authorized to perform the treatments. When complications arise, most times they cannot be contacted. In addition, the hotel room is not a safe and clean environment to perform such medical procedures.
Different countries have different regulations. In Singapore, medical procedures especially minimally invasive ones like injections and even laser treatments, can only be done by a registered doctor. The registered doctor should be experienced and has an in-depth knowledge and clear understanding of facial anatomy to know the correct place and plane to do the injections to avoid complications such as skin necrosis or death and in worst case scenario – blindness. If complications do arise, the experienced doctor will know how to handle the complications.
To find out if the clinic and doctor are licensed, patients may check the list of healthcare premises on the Ministry of Health (MOH) directory, and the list of licensed doctors on Singapore Medical Council’s (SMC) Register. To find out about the experience of the doctor, the consumer can go online to look at the clinic or doctor’s reviews and check with the manufacturers if the doctors are trained in the procedure.
The safety and efficacy of the medical device or product is what makes the difference between authorized and unauthorized source of injectable. False or fake products containing dangerous and harmful ingredients can cause serious side effects or complications and even death.
The procedure with unauthorized products may take a wrong turn and could result in lifelong scarring or death. Unauthorized sellers would easily make false claim that they are registered, and when something goes wrong, they are often uncontactable.
In addition, certain kinds of medical injectable must be transported via cold chain. Parallel importers often do not transport their counterfeit or fake products properly (because transportation via a cold chain is very costly) and this will alter the efficacy of the product or worse, cause complications such as infections.
It is important to educate consumers about choosing and using authorized and authentic aesthetic products to ensure that the products are safe, and to give them the best and optimal outcome. Companies can emphasize on this by creating awareness campaigns on social media or their website, explaining how consumers can identify authentic products. It is also important that these companies communicate why consumers should use authentic product and highlight the repercussions of counterfeit ones.
To find out more about our treatments, please contact the doctor or therapist at Ageless Medical.