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[7 min read] Planning a cosmetic procedure

Most patients who choose to undergo a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure, such as anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, or thread lifts, do so for aesthetic rather than health-related reasons. That is why the practitioners have two main goals: to not harm patients’ health and to manage their expectations in the best possible way.

A quality planning of a cosmetic procedure consists of five basic steps:

  1. Consulting with the patient
  2. Taking medical history
  3. Getting an informed consent
  4. Managing expectations and potential side effects
  5. Taking the before pictures


A consultation before an aesthetic procedure is not much different from any consultation in primary care. The medical practitioner should ask the patient about their general health and what they are looking to improve in their physical appearance. It is also valuable to clarify the expectations and the potential risks.

Any information about previous cosmetic procedures is crucial. Also, the patient should not be pregnant or breastfeeding at the time of treatment.

Medical history

Talk to your patient about their medical history. Check if they are using blood thinners or have any allergies. Ask about chronic conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune diseases that can affect the skin, such as psoriasis or eczema.

Other valuable information includes data about:

  • Complications after previous aesthetic treatments
  • Current infections
  • Surgical procedures in the past
  • Mental health

Get a written consent for all necessary actions before and during the aesthetic treatment.

Manage expectations

The patient’s expectations are a measure of success in aesthetic medicine. That’s why managing those expectations is essential. The patient needs to understand the realistic range of improvement an aesthetic intervention can provide in their particular case.

The job of an aesthetic doctor is to inform the patient about the effects of the procedure. The patient also needs a timeline. When the results of the treatment become visible, and how long will they last?

Try to avoid psychiatrically unstable individuals as it is often complicated to manage expectations in such patients.

Make sure the patient understands the risks and potential side effects

All aesthetic treatments carry a risk of side effects and unwanted complications. With minimally invasive procedures, that risk is lower. However, there are still some common side effects.

When working with injectables, lasers, or thread lifts, it is not unusual to cause minor to mild skin reactions such as:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Itchiness
  • Pain

These are normal and usually resolve days after the procedure.

There are also some rare complications. These include:

  • Dimpling
  • Asymmetry
  • Palpebral ptosis
  • Thread protrusion
  • Nerve paralysis
  • Vein occlusion

Take the before pictures

When planning a cosmetic procedure, always make sure to take the before photographs of the patient. It is the best method to compare the results after the treatment. You can also use these pictures to reassure the patient if they have any concerns about the effects of the procedure.

The bottom line

With these five steps and proper training, most primary care providers can plan and conduct safe and quality cosmetic procedures with great confidence.

Learn more with the Certificate Courses in Aesthetic Medicine

Aesthetic Medicine Certificate Courses in Australia

Read more recent research.


  • Sundaram H, Signorini M, Liew S, Trindade de Almeida AR, Wu Y, Vieira Braz A, Fagien S, Goodman GJ, Monheit G, Raspaldo H; Global Aesthetics Consensus Group. Global Aesthetics Consensus: Botulinum Toxin Type A–Evidence-Based Review, Emerging Concepts, and Consensus Recommendations for Aesthetic Use, Including Updates on Complications. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2016 Mar;137(3):518e-529e. DOI: 10.1097/01.prs.0000475758.63709.23. PMID: 26910696; PMCID: PMC5242214.
  • Urdiales-Gálvez F, Delgado NE, Figueiredo V, Lajo-Plaza JV, Mira M, Ortíz-Martí F, Del Rio-Reyes R, Romero-Álvarez N, Del Cueto SR, Segurado MA, Rebenaque CV. Preventing the Complications Associated with the Use of Dermal Fillers in Facial Aesthetic Procedures: An Expert Group Consensus Report. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2017 Jun;41(3):667-677. doi: 10.1007/s00266-017-0798-y. Epub 2017 Apr 14. PMID: 28411354; PMCID: PMC5440530.
  • Pearl RL, Percec I. Ageism and Health in Patients Undergoing Cosmetic Procedures. Aesthet Surg J. 2019 Jun 21;39(7): NP288-NP292. DOI: 10.1093/asj/sjy283. PMID: 30346472; PMCID: PMC6587926.

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