Don’t want to end up butchered? How to choose the right cosmetic clinic

comestic clinic tips

We get a lot of readers asking for advice about cosmetic procedures, both non-invasive and invasive.

The most often asked question is, ‘How do I find the right practitioner?’

Here are a few simple guidelines to help you. Below, we are talking about non-invasive, so things like Botox, fillers, laser etc.

Most non-invasive procedures are performed by GPs and nurses, which is great, but how much training have they had?, why did they change tack into cosmetic procedures?, how long have they been doing it?, and who trained them?.

These may seem like painful questions to ask, but when you have a needle in your face, which could very well cause extreme pain and damage, you need to ask. This is your face – protect it at all costs.

If someone injecting you hits a blood vessel and it gets blocked with filler, the results can be catastrophic!

There are some fantastic injectors that are trained nurses and GPs, who have had extra training, who continue to train and who do an incredible job.

You just need to find them, and when you do, that hard work will pay off. Because in this industry (which is largely unregulated) you need to go to the best.

As reported by the ABC last year, “In the unlikely event of an adverse reaction, you have to have medical-grade resuscitation equipment available immediately and that’s not going to happen in a beauty salon,” Dr Knudsen said. “If these procedures are being done in a non-medical setting like a beauty salon or a Botox party that we hear about, that is completely unacceptable.”

Dr Knudsen said any beauty salon that has hired a cosmetic nurse must ensure a registered doctor is involved in the consultation process.

“It may be breaching the law depending on the contact between the patient and the doctor who is the person responsible for the prescribing of the medication,” he said.

“There are always risks and you need a comprehensive medical history of the patient to make sure they are not going to react or be aggravated.”

So, here then are my top tips based on research, and personal experience:

1. Always do your research. Check online independent reviews, check out the clinic, who works there, what do they look like (this is often a great way to judge results. If the person behind the desk looks a fright, i.e. overfilled, puffed up and not at all natural – DON’T go in!). Some clinics like to put young good-looking people out on the front desk, that’s great and I guess some see that as inspirational or aspirational, but let’s face it, most people going into these clinics are older. We want to see real people, looking really good for their age – not over done.

2. Always see a qualified doctor for your treatments. Check their credentials. How long have they been doing non-invasive cosmetic procedures? How much on-going training do they do? How long have they been doing the particular treatment you want? Don’t be fooled by the word ‘non-invasive’ Botox, fillers, lasers, any injectables need to be performed by a professional. Just because the procedure is classed as ‘non-invasive’ does not mean it doesn’t have side effects or complications. Just because the person is a doctor/GP doesn’t mean they have had the extra training they need to perform these procedures. If in doubt and worried, go and see a qualified cosmetic or plastic surgeon. Most of their clinics offer non-invasive procedures – and these doctors have had extra training in hospitals, they know the face inside out, they know the complications, and they are very particular.

3. Never make a decision based on cost. You get what you pay for. If you can’t afford it, wait until you can. Save up. It really isn’t worth going to someone because they are cheaper. Trust me, you will end up spending more money fixing the result than you did on the actual procedure. We speak from experience. BUT – cost per unit of product should be pretty universal, always question what you are paying for. Some doctors put their price up far too much, for no reason at all. Remember, you have the power, so use it.

4. Recommendations are always helpful when choosing a clinic, especially if the person recommending the clinic looks fresh and not overdone.

5. A good doctor will NEVER try and upsell you. If you go in just wanting Botox and they start talking about filler, laser and other treatments, walk out. A good doctor will also tell you if you don’t need anything done, or if an alternate treatment will give you a better result.

5. First impressions count. This starts from the first phone call to book in your consultation. If you don’t get a good impression. Don’t go. Simple.

6. A good doctor will always ask your medical history, want to know of any previous treatments, and will always ask to see you two weeks later for a follow-up. This is extremely important, because it is when you can discuss your results, compare before and afters. Has the treatment worked, were your expectations meet (a good doctor will also manage those expectations)? It is imperative that your doctor want to see the results. Follow-up is very important. For both the doctor and yourself.

7. NEVER be afraid to ask questions. You are paying a lot of money, your hard-earned money. The doctor and clinic need to respect this. If you have questions, or are unsure, just ask. A good doctor and clinic have nothing to hide and will happily answer any of your concerns. If they don’t, walk out – it’s that simple.

8. First impressions are key and being made to feel welcome is imperative. When I go to my cosmetic centre, I am greeted by the friendliest front office manager you’ll ever find. She always makes me feel great, is engaged, warm, professional and just fantastic. She is a big reason why I continue to go back, in fact she is the reason I went to this particular practice in the first place. Relationships are very important. You should be made to feel important and special, because let’s face it, you are spending a hell of a lot of money, and in this economic environment, that needs to be respected.

9. Research and more research. As I said earlier, recommendations are very helpful, but this is one industry where you get what you pay for – cheap is not always the best. Go with your gut, it rarely lets you down. Use all the online tools you can, reviews etc. Looking fresher is the goal, a natural look is best. Always ask to see before and afters. A good clinic will respect you, guide you and make you feel comfortable and will ALWAYS do follow-up appointments.

10. No doctor is perfect, and if they are proclaiming to be the best. I’d walk out. Doctors should be striving to be the best, not proclaiming to be the best. Modestly is key. Patients can hashtag their recommendations or compliments, but it’s just not cool coming from a professional.

In summary

I go to a great doctor here in Sydney who has been fantastic. He was recommended to me by my friend who happens to work there. I trust him. Dr Stephen Lowe (based in Chatswood), is professional, warm (very important) and I feel comfortable with him. Dr Lowe does all my procedures, including the Pearl Laser I had a few months ago (I am loving the results).

I do however remain very vigilant.

This is my face and body after all. I need it to be treated with the upmost respect. I also spend a lot of money, and I never want that to be taken for granted. Because all those small clients like myself and potentially you, add up to big business.

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me at So far I have had Botox, fillers and laser. Happy to answer any questions via email on any of those procedures.

The co-founder of 50SoWhat has been in publishing for most of her working life. She was general manager of successful boutique media publishing house in New Zealand for several years and boasts an impeccable sales, marketing and management background. When she’s not road-testing the latest cosmetic procedures, or investigating the hottest lifestyle, travel, fashion and beauty trends for over 45’s, Jo is often back home catching up with family and friends, or working on her golf swing!


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