Do We Really Want A Consensus?
Recently I was at a conference tasked with creating the best way to do filler treatments… as if there is one way… and as I listened to colleagues each with their different ways, I couldn’t help but think we are much like an artist sitting around a table debating the best way to paint a portrait. And while all physicians can understand the basic anatomy and mechanics of injecting filler, so too can the classical artists paint a bowl of fruit.
However, it is the differences between the individual artisans that we come to recognise and appreciate. As aesthetic physicians, aren’t we the modern day artist in our own right? And while so much attention and emphasis is placed on best practices, evidence based medicine and rigid protocols, the essence of what makes our field unique and special are the plethora of flavours, colours and blends that individuals bring to the craft.
We are all influenced by a unique combination of religion, culture and experiences. And it is only through our individual prisms that we can create our version of beauty with the tools and products at our disposal. And while we can influence and share ideas, it is unlikely we would ever do it the same way. Unlike general medicine, aesthetics doesn’t take well to paint by numbers outcomes and standardised dosing.
Imagine if artists were funnelled to all think and deliver their craft in the same way… imagine for a minute, if you will, generational artists coming together such as Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Henri Toulouse Lautrec, and Fernando Botero all sitting around a table attempting to come up with a consensus on fillers?
Could they ever come to a consensus and would we want them to? They all have forged a version of beauty in their own right, and just as some people prefer one artist over another, perhaps our patients seek variability in physicians as well. After the basics of beauty and safety are agreed upon it is our uniqueness in aesthetic thought and practice that separates us as individuals. And it is precisely these same two tenets that act as the glue strengthening and enriching us collectively. This is what makes aesthetics a unique field at the forefront of medicine and culture. There is a reason that we are growing at a rate of 10 percent per year, attracting the best, brightest and most creative from each medical school class. It is our indi- vidual tastes that we should aim to protect, preserve and celebrate. Otherwise over aggressive consensus may be the slippery slope leading us to irrelevancy and commoditization, or to a corner alcove at the Holiday Inn starving artists convention hall.
Dr Steven Dayan is a Facial Plastic Surgeon and NY Times best-selling author. He is a frequent lecturer, a physician educator and an active researcher in emerging cos- metic medicine technologies and techniques. Additionally, he is an adjunct Professor at DePaul University teaching an undergraduate course in the “Science of Beauty and Attraction and its impact on Culture and Business.” He also is founder and medical director for a research company (DeNova Research). DeNova has been involved in many Phase II, III and IV FDA clinical trials evaluating safety and effectiveness of new treatments, products and devices.