Held at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria last week, the Aesthetic Medicine Congress South Africa (AMCSA 2019) brought together more than 240 delegates comprising of, among others, plastic surgeons, dermatologists, dentists, doctors, and other healthcare professionals involved in aesthetic medicine, gynaecology, endocrinology and weight-related fields of medicine. With the focus on high quality and education, the three-day congress was addressed by local and international experts presenting on a myriad of topics aimed at ensuring that delegates remain up to date with the scientific and practical developments in this exciting and fast-expanding field.

Starting with pre-congress workshops on hair, body and integrative medicine and a focus on the possible anatomy-related complications with treatments such as fillers, Botox, threads and chemical peels, delegates were also treated on an aesthetic injection marathon. The marathon offered them the opportunity to gain practical experience from local and international experts in performing threads, lip fillers, full face rejuvenation with fillers and new techniques in the administration of Botulinum Toxin.

In her presentation, Dr Natalie Cordeiro looked at the psychological side of aesthetic medicine, particularly body Dysmorphic Disorder and other DSM diagnoses encountered in aesthetic medicine and the importance of identifying these disorders during the initial consultation and examination and how it should be dealt with during treatment.

The role of human growth factor in regenerative medicine and wound care and its effectiveness in wound healing, skin rejuvenation, anti-aging and the treatment of hair loss was another hot topic presented by international speakers, Dr Jhoan Haddad from Lebanon and Dr Maria Vitale-Villarejo from Spain. They discussed studies showing how the topical application of growth factors can reduce the signs of skin aging caused by solar radiation and environmental pollution and its benefits in boosting wound healing.

The ethics of aesthetic medicine was discussed by several speakers, reminding healthcare professionals of their responsibilities in ensuring that they treat their patients in accordance with the rules and regulations set by local as well as international bodies. Dr Salome Gurgendize, a GP with a special interest in Aesthetic Medicine highlighted the importance of informing patients about the treatment, results, possible complications and costs, and a signed contract between the healthcare provider and patient that sets out the responsibilities, obligations and expectations of both parties as vital prerequisites any treatment.

Dr Debbie Norval, a board member of the Aesthetic and Anti-aging Medicine Society of SA (AAMSSA), outlined the collaboration between AAMSSA and the South African Association of Health and Skincare Professionals (SAAHSP) in drafting guidelines for correct and ethical practice of the different levels of skin specialists and therapists. She pointed out that while there is currently no designation for a therapist who works within the medical aesthetic industry under the supervision of a doctor, the two associations are working on designing the scope of practice for a new designation of Dermal therapists.

Complications experienced with different procedures and dissatisfied patients were also discussed in depth. According to Dr Riekie Smit, the reality is that the more treatments professionals perform, the higher the chance is of treatment failure and dissatisfied patients.

“The secret lies in not shifting blame but to investigate intensively into each case to maximise learning from your and others’ mistakes,” Dr Smit advised.