Aesthetics and Research: Are They Mutually Exclusive?

Since becoming an aesthetic pharmacist prescriber, I’ve noticed a lack of research in this area of work. Over six years later, I still see an inherent lack of applying evidence from existing good quality research to practice. I see non-surgical injectables training continuing largely unchanged, with little improvement in providing safer or more effective treatment outcomes.

If aesthetics should be considered a medical specialty, then wouldn’t it seem appropriate for research to be supported & evidence implemented into good quality practice on an ongoing basis, just as it is in the NHS? 

Perhaps research & aesthetics focuses on differing aspects of practice- development of new treatments & improving how diseases are understood being the prime focus of medical research, whereas cosmetic improvement is the main focus of aesthetics? 

Perhaps the lack of regulation & control in private work renders aesthetics as the ‘ugly duckling’ amongst medical practice, which in turn affects research studies?

Perhaps practitioners are simply more bothered about their time & money, than improving aesthetics education, learning & development for themselves & for everyone else?
Is the issue a lack of resources in carrying out the work? Do practitioners just not want to investigate aesthetics research, or do they have little postgraduate experience to understand what’s actually involved in carrying out research themselves?

I’ll use the example of cosmetic work in the Netherlands- one of the only countries where it’s treated as a medical specialty. At the Erasmus University Rotterdam Medical Centre, a few cosmetic doctors run an outpatient aesthetic adverse events clinic. It was the first, if not still the only one of its type in the world. They see patients referred to them by medical cosmetic practitioners from across the country. Patients appear with acute & chronic dermal filler adverse events, in particular. When the injector identifies an issue, but is unable to manage the problem themselves, they can make a referral to Erasmus.

The Dutch specialists carrying out this work include the doctors Leonie Schelke, Peter Velthuis & Tom Decates. As well as carrying out the complications work, they also run their own aesthetic clinics & they also carry out research work too. I’ve spoken to them and it’s clear they enjoy what they do. Their impetus is their love of investigating the unknown. Science has always been the basis of all their work & this is precisely why they carry out aesthetics research work. Over the last few years, they’ve investigated a range of different topics about non-surgical aesthetics, including the use of ultrasound as an educational tool in facial aesthetic injections.

The Dutch researchers work to improve understanding for the whole medical aesthetics community. They aren’t paid to do the work & they give up their own time to do it. It’s their choice, but I consider their dedication to be quite selfless.

Ultimately, I don’t think aesthetics & research are mutually exclusive. It’s more a question of what practitioners consider to be important in their lives & their patients’ lives.

Vivek Kuvelker (Clinical Pharmacist Prescriber) 
Instagram: @skin.pharma


  1. Excellent Viv!!! Aesthetic medicine it’s science!! An outstanding work had been done by this team 🙌🙌 ! Leading work to help all the world’s practitioners to be better !! Beautifully explained !!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *