Cosmetic medicine cannot perform miracles, but it is a type of pat on the back which helps people feel better and more able to face up to life, says Juan Antonio López L. Pitalúa, of the Spanish Society of Cosmetic Medicine (SEME). He is also on the organising committee of the 33rd national conference on this type of medicine, which took place in Malaga last week for the fifth consecutive year. Nearly 2,000 experts attended the event.
What is the cosmetic medicine situation in Spain like at present?
It is very well placed because of its perspectives and its seriousness. It is also developing along different paths, including regenerative medicine and oncoesthetics for patients who have had cancer. We also collaborate with gynaecologists, because many cosmetic techniques are used in gynaecology to improve the functionality of female genitals.
Is the demand for cosmetic treatments increasing?
Yes. On one hand more people are being treated, and on the other we are now treating older people.
Which treatments are most commonly used?
In the case of women, the most common treatment is for wrinkles, especially using hyaluronic acid and botulinum toxin (Botox). Many also ask for therapies to treat skin pigments and marks. Men turn to botox and hyaluronic acid to stop their faces looking worn.
Is it still the case that more women than men have cosmetic treatments to improve their appearance?
The percentage of treatments is greater in women, but the number of men who want cosmetic medical treatments is also increasing.
Ageing is a part of life, but do you think society will ever accept that it is something natural?
We all have to bear the passage of time, but sometimes it is hard for people to accept it. Cosmetic medicine helps them to handle the changes more easily. You also have to remember that people in their 50s today are the same as those in their 40s used to be, because expectations and quality of life are greater and better. That means that our physical deterioration occurs later in life. Cosmetic medicine contributes to that in a positive way.
What qualifications does a cosmetic doctor need?
You need to be qualified in medicine and surgery, have done a Masters at university and, after that, be accredited by a College of Doctors. You then need experience and good professional skills. Cosmetic medicine is still not properly recognised as a speciality as such.
Why is Malaga a leader in cosmetic medicine?
Fundamentally because highly renowned, international cosmetic doctors work in Malaga province. That attracts patients from all over Spain and abroad, who are searching for top quality treatment.
Some people think cosmetic doctors can perform miracles. They're mistaken, of course, but does that belief mean they are dissatisfied when they see the results?
In order to avoid dissatisfaction, you have to be very careful about advertising cosmetic medicine. It is very important to explain everything properly to the patient on their first visit, to find out what their expectations are and let them know whether or not you can achieve what they want, including cosmetic surgery.
Does cosmetic medicine make people happy?
I define cosmetic medicine as a type of pat on the back which helps us to feel better and more able to face up to life but, unfortunately or maybe fortunately, it isn't going to change our lives. Anyone who thinks it will do that is mistaken.