Friday, 7 February 2014

What do we really think of the lunch time procedure?

Isn’t it just so fashionable to be super busy lately?? It’s the naughtiers and “Apologies, I’m afraid my diary is overflowing.” Back to back engagements, meetings, personal trainer at 6am, out of the office and “Ooh it appears I have completely missed daylight! “ Odd isn’t it though, that it really is a must today to let absolutely everyone know just how bogged down we are with occupational and social commitments only to then be embroiled in an amicable comparative banter of who should win the battle of the busiest. Stress is the buzz word. If this last word happens not to be in your vocabulary, in today’s day and age it is assumed that you are either of inferior mental capacity, debilitatingly slothful or a member of the fine but dying breed of the species better known as ‘the kept woman’

The common mortal today is absolutely bogged down with endless tasks and duties while trying to maintain an illusory harmonious work-family-life balance. We live in an era where ruthless redundancies are rife, and unemployment is not an acceptable option. The requisite reply to the question ‘how are you?’ is now (with the obligatory mop of the brow, of course) “Oh, I’m stressed, just waaaaay too busy”. But, at a cursory glance, how many of us actually display the evidence of the strain and walk about looking frazzled? While we happily extol the hard workers, we don’t exactly laud the unkempt, slovenly worker. However, is it really all that feasible an option to take a morning off work to make our way to the hair dresser, the manicurist and most importantly to he who wields the needle of youth-restoring venom? It is certainly not amenable my schedule, or to the city business whizzes. The recent loom and boom in so called lunch-time procedures hardly comes as a surprise. Businesses cater to meet the needs of their clients. This industry is no different, and hence a new breed of clinics has spawned and are now commonplace. Hours of operation have been extended till late into the evening and the lunch-time procedure moniker is now a valuable marketing tool.

This however has brought with it some ominous implications. A lunch-time or 15 minute intervention, is often perceived to be a no frills, no extras included, in-out quick fix with little weight given to the quality of the service or the standard of the ensuing result. We can hurl mud back at those who rather ungraciously slung mud first in our direction. I speak of none other of course, than sensationalism-hungry journalists who tweak and embellish horror stories thus throwing the practice into disrepute. However, reason tells me that we, the practitioners aren’t entirely blameless. While most of us remain true to the Hippocratic oath, there are a few vultures among us who, ever-ready to turn a quick buck, take advantage of the ever-growing desire to remain more of a grape than a shriveled raisin. This trend is gaining momentum. Would we be raving lunatics to ignore and continue status quo? Or should we cash in?

We are relentlessly inundated with marketing advice. However this counsel does not emanate from governing authorities ie the likes of the General Medical and Dental Councils. If a patient feels that she was “done” in a flurry, in front of the judge, she will wax lyrical on how she was done in a hurry and felt shortchanged.

Another misconception lies in the perception of the associated downtime. It is often accepted as true that quick and simple equates to negligible pain thereafter or compromise on daily activities. A prime example is the lip augmentation procedure, which rarely takes up more than twenty minutes of our precious time. However, returning to work straight after would beg an interrogation and concern of recent assault. And no, the boss would not approve of the swollen and bruised pout in the next meeting, especially if orally incontinent and lisping post nerve block! I am still to see a microneedling victim jumping into a cab heading straight back to the City after I’m done with her! Herein lies the worth of the consultation, which very often, especially if it is the initial doctor patient chat can effectively last longer than lunch time! So, it is certainly not a ‘ooh, just spotted this on the high street, perhaps I’ll just nip in for a quick fix jab, fill and tox, and lo behold, my summer freeze!’ It might be somewhat acceptable that a patient is in and out of the clinic in 30 minutes should the procedure in question takes little time, the patient is not a novice to the treatment and the doctor is content that he is comfortable carrying out the intervention given the patient’s condition and knowledge on the subject matter.

Whereas straightforward brief procedures, such as a repeat toxin treatment or steroid injections for scar treatment might be well suited and indeed comfortably squeezed into the tea break, the blatant unashamed marketing of more complex and lengthy procedures such as minimally invasive breast augmentation or minimal access liposuction as lunch time contender, is a hoodwink. Truthfully, the interventions are far less invasive and painful than their classical surgical counterparts. However, there is no way a patient should or could return to the office following such surgery. So, in essence the beauty brigade shouldn’t take this marketing moniker too far by applying it universally to the wide array of procedures offered. Misleading a patient often means disappointing a patient, and an unhappy patient tells twenty people. Happy patients on the other hand will only sing our praises to five souls. Breeding a progeny of discontented and disgruntled patients is injurious to the doctor’s reputation, and that of the profession in its entirety.

We have all heard of prolific surgeons in the pinnacle of their career, who had previously been lauded for their contributions to the specialty, suddenly taking a high vortex downward spiral. ‘The flying doctor’ notoriously made the headlines for completing a surgical facelift in half an hour. Individual patients left unhappy with the results of his knife-wielding trends came together, coalesced and formed an army. Their effort finally culminated in having him struck off the medical register.

These trends tend to go hand in hand with BOGOF and ’recommend a friend’ offers, all of which I think seem to trivialize the weight and potential risks of the treatment involved. While it might be very feasible from a time management point of view to trip off the street into the clinic on your way to lunch with the ladies, have you never noticed that we disapprove on alcohol consumption following the administration of our favourite poison? Or the avoidance of hot drinks after we’ve imparted our lidocaine packed hyaluronic acid to our lips?

It is hardly a riveting revelation that this lunch time trend has caught on and its popularity is gaining momentum by the day. If in the space of a latte and a newspaper, faces could be symmetrized and beautified, sweaty underarms rendered dry and faces peeled to glowing youth, thank you, where do I join the queue? In a day and age where judgment starts and lingers long on outwardly appearance, and the pretty young people rule, it is too effortless for us to feed off the insecurities this notion brings with it. Thus while we might indulge in self-exaltation at our contribution towards making the people prettier and thus more confident and successful, might we be responsible for fuelling the social acceptability of such psychology and cultivating a ne breed of addicts?

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