‘It will just be like the first SARS’

Article medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic doctor, liposuctionist)

Templestowe Lower, Berwick and Beaumaris Clinics

Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2005, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections. Read More

It was late 2019. I don’t use Facebook much, but my wife insists on keeping me up-to-date by regularly telling me about the latest news updates, ‘Hey Gavin, there is a new SARS virus from Wuhan China that’s spreading around’. It didn’t properly register at first. I thought it was just another hyped-up Facebook news post. I was working as a doctor in intensive care around the time of the first SARS outbreak in 2002, and it never really hit Australia, and I never heard of a single case. So I  explained this to her, ‘there’s nothing to worry about, it will just be like the first SARS’.

Boy, was I wrong!

Fast forward to today, we have all had to adapt to this new world. Shutdowns, social isolation, social distancing,  wearing masks, and millions of people’s health and lives affected by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

The prime minister recently said that the virus is an ‘attack against both our lives and our livelihoods’. I couldn’t agree more. He has had the difficult task of balancing the potential spread of disease with maintaining our livelihoods. Elective surgery, beauty therapy, relaxation massages, tattooing, and gatherings of people have been restricted. Whilst services such as hairdressing, retail, take-away food, physiotherapy and medical clinics are allowed to open. Many have found the restrictions to be inconsistent and even confusing. Unfortunately, the terms ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ services have been used which I believe has added to the confusion, as other than food, water and sleep nothing else is really essential! It is really more about the ‘importance’ of a service and not it’s ‘essentialness’. For example, hairdressing. We won’t die from not getting a haircut, but most of us are used to getting our haircut by a hairdresser and not our Mum! And although hairdressing holds a fair risk of transmission due to close inter-personal contact, it was deemed important enough to remain available.

In a similar vein, cosmetic medicine helps us to look and feel great, and I believe that is of great importance at this time. We saw a similar effect around the time of the Great Depression when lipstick sales increased. Women would treat themselves with small things such as lipstick to make them feel better in hard times. In many ways, having a non-surgical cosmetic treatment such as anti-wrinkle injections is like purchasing lipstick. It’s not too expensive in comparison to cosmetic surgery, and it keeps us looking and feeling good in times such as these.

As medical practitioners, we are particularly aware of the potential risk of transmission in providing a service that requires close personal contact. We have focused on minimising the risks by implementing the following policies and procedures;

  • All staff now wearing masks and protective equipment
  • Screening questionnaire and temperature check prior to entry.
  • Adherence to 1 person per 4 square metres.
  • Minimising contact times;
    • In-person consultation have been replaced with online or phone consultations
    • Certain lengthier procedures have been ceased for now
  • Procedures that may be more likely to cause transmission of coronavirus have been ceased e.g lip filler, nose filler and certain laser procedures.
  • Refreshments and magazines have been removed from our patient waiting lounges to minimise surfaces that may come in to contact with the virus.
  • Clinic surfaces within the treatment rooms, waiting area, reception area and door handles are disinfected throughout the day.
  • Practitioners are continuing to follow strict hand hygiene procedures and continue to wash their hands before seeing each patient.
  • Hand sanitiser is available in all areas across the clinic.

We also ask that you;

  • Use hand sanitiser on entry and leaving the centre.
  • Avoid using cash in our clinics.
  • Reschedule appointments that if you have an appointment within 14 days of returning from overseas, or if you have any cold or flu type symptoms, or if you have been in contact with anyone experiencing symptoms.
  • Avoid bringing unnecessary people and children to your appointment.

On behalf of all the doctors, nurses and staff we thank you for respecting our measures to help minimise any risk of transmission to other patients and our staff at Victorian Cosmetic Institute.

Stay safe! Keep well. Together we will unify and beat this virus!

Dr. Gavin Chan