Aesthetic Medicine – Past, Present and Future Part 1

Welcome to the brand new and re-launched Milo Clinic website and to the first of many blogs. In my blogs I hope to share my experience and knowledge as well as interesting thoughts and opinions on the wonderful and ever evolving field of aesthetic medicine.

So what is aesthetic medicine? Well, it is the newest and the fastest changing field of modern medicine and it is quite literally the younger brother of the well established plastic surgery. I saw an interview recently with Britain’s number one tennis player Andy Murray, and in the interview he describes how form a very early age he had a fierce tennis rivalry with his older brother Jamie, but by the time he turned 14 he became better and started beating his older sibling regularly. Well in my opinion, aesthetic medicine is just turning 14!

So what is the difference between my passion of aesthetic medicine and that of plastic surgery? It is a question I get asked by my patients every day and there are many ways to answer it. Simply, aesthetic medicine is the minimally invasive alternative to plastic surgery. Plastic surgery uses the scalpel as it’s main tool, in aesthetic medicine we use small needles, cannulas, peels and lasers. For the Star Trek fans out there, you will remember Dr Mckoy performing surgery, curing ailments and even in one episode reversing the aging process with what looked like a hand held laser. As futuristic as this sounds, that future is already here and I am very sure that the scalpel will soon become very underused and will indeed become a museum relic in not too distant future. We all want less pain, less scarring and smaller risks, and now in many fields of modern medicine, the technology and new modern techniques make minimally invasive procedures a very palatable meal on many people’s menus.

Plastic surgery gives often brilliant but permanent results, the downside being that it involves general anaesthetic and scarring amongst other things. It is important to stress here that plastic surgery is a wonderful field of medicine which was my first love, and many procedures performed will probably never be replaced by aesthetic medicine, rhinoplasty (nose operation) being a very good example. Then again who knows, I am remodelling noses with Perlane every week! Only one year ago I told a patient that breast enlargements may one day become a non-surgical procedure, and now that procedure is already here! This accelerating field of aesthetic medicine is a more natural alternative to plastic surgery for many conditions and it’s main asset is that the treatments are non-permanent. It is this non-permanence which has brought aesthetics to the masses and which has normalised the process. People have realised that there is now a very safe and painless alternative to rejuvenation of the face and body, and because it is non-permanent the fear factor has been taken out. Many of our patients tell us that they would have never considered plastic surgery, and yet aesthetic treatments such as botox and fillers are very acceptable to them.

So where did aesthetic medicine start? Well for this we can look to the discovery of botox and like many of the greatest medical discoveries such as the discovery of penicillin, this was an accidental finding! Since the early 1970s botox was used for the treatment of many medical conditions including squints and blepharospasm (involuntary twitching of the eyes). In 1987 a Canadian ophthalmologist, Dr Jean Carruthers was treating blepharospasm in her patients with botox, and to her amazement she noticed that as a side effect there was a reduction of wrinkles around the eyes! With the help of her husband, who is a consultant Dermatologist, they devised clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of this potential aesthetic treatment and hence aesthetic medicine was born!

To explain my ingrained passion for aesthetic medicine, I briefly have to tell you about my past; but for that you will have to come back next week for my next blog post!

18, July, 2008Dr Milo Blogs