Canadians take medical safety very seriously. We believe in regulation and oversight to ensure that all medical procedures are as safe as possible. However, when it comes to aesthetic medicine, a lack of regulation is presenting a series of dangers Canadians aren’t used to facing, especially in the non-invasive treatment field where procedures often focus on enhancing the quality of skin on the face and neck.

Aesthetic medicine uses distinctly medical technologies and involves procedures like using injections to smooth wrinkles as well as using lasers to rejuvenate skin and treat scarring. And yet, there are an unsettling number of fly-by-night operations that prioritize quick profits over professionalism. “The concern for us is that non-medically licensed individuals, such as aestheticians or laypeople, are doing these things out of their homes and basements or flying under the radar in storefronts,” says Dr. Renier van Aardt, President of the Canadian Association of Aesthetic Medicine (CAAM). “They’re often using products that are not Health Canada approved and, because they’re not licensed, there is no regulatory body monitoring them.”

Safety is paramount

The procedures are very safe when done properly, but in untrained hands, injectables and laser treatments can have disastrous results. The price of safety in this case is vigilance. “Watch out for red flags,” says Dr. van Aardt. “If the price is suspiciously low, you should really be worried about it. If they only take cash for payment, that should concern you. If it’s in someone’s living room or basement — big red flag. These procedures should be performed in a proper medical setting.”

Fortunately, good training and certification for aesthetic medicine exist in Canada. The key is to remain aware and to always ensure that your practitioner is licensed. Ask your physician if they are a member of the Canadian Association of Aesthetic Medicine, or board certified in Dermatology or Plastic Surgery.