Facial Injector Training: Safety First With Leslie Fletcher
Mental health screenings and proper injection techniques are important for patient safety.
Leslie Fletcher, MSN, RN, AGNP-BC, embarked on her journey in the field of Medical Aesthetics in 2001, before there were the variety of trainings, protocols, and processes that are available today. Like many experienced professionals, she had to find her own way, rely on strong mentors, and use her personal experiences to shape her approach to training future generations of aspiring Medical Aesthetics professionals in the latest techniques and patient safety methods.
Many roles in different practices brought her to Medical Aesthetics.
After working in traditional nursing roles like urgent care and pediatric home health, Leslie decided to make a change in the field of nursing she was working in. She began her journey in aesthetics in a plastic surgeon’s office. About her experience there, Leslie says, “In hindsight, it was the best place to start—the emphasis on the artistry as well as a framework for what could be a successful business model. I really owe a ton of appreciation to this practice, as I learned so much from the plastic surgeon. He also gave me a lot of autonomy and allowed me to make my own decisions, which really accelerated my growth.”
From there, Leslie moved to an aesthetic dermatology practice, which gave her insight and experience about the clinical and skincare-focused elements of the industry.
“This synergy between the plastics and dermatologists really helped me to set a foundation of goals. Next, I started working at a medical spa operated by a nurse. There, I witnessed the challenges of owning and running a business.”
How she found her inspiration to develop training techniques.
“As far as aesthetic training, when I started out there wasn’t any. I had to teach myself how to do everything from the ground up. I would get my hands on as much research as I could find. I never want to approach someone’s face without knowing what I’m doing. I’m not comfortable going into a situation unprepared. Usually, I overprepare, which was challenging at the time, because when I was starting there wasn't a lot of content out there to help me learn.”
By this time, Leslie realized there was a significant need for quality training and educational resources for aspiring Medical Aesthetics practitioners. She noticed that the industry was growing, that more and more people were interested in being part of it, and that there were many who sought options when it came to safe, credible, and comprehensive training. She decided to combine a training institute and a Medical Aesthetics practice under one location.
“When the training company that I opened became more of a focus, it just wasn't fair for me to work for someone else anymore. It felt so natural to open up my own practice, where I could include the training and the clinic under one umbrella and not feel guilty if I wasn't seeing patients because I was training. In 2010, I started my own practice, along with the training institute. Since then, I have trained over 7,000 practitioners in the field of aesthetics.”
A steadfast commitment to credible resources.
“Re-medicalizing Medical Aesthetics is important to me. This would include using phrasing that reflects this messaging, such as ‘Medical Aesthetics is a field of medicine, not an industry’,” Leslie says. She points out that, today, aesthetics social media is filled with less-than-professional content that lacks credibility.
There is another social platform concern for Leslie. Seeing so much social media content from injectors focusing on actual techniques is distressing, and from her point of view, that isn’t putting patient safety at the forefront. Trainings and techniques should be administered and demonstrated only by licensed, certified, experienced professionals under credible supervision. Those seeking training should do so from a verified and credible source.
“I tend to be a little more conceptual with my educational content.” Leslie points out that anyone posting step-by-step technique videos that are available to everyone on social media could be contributing to the known safety issue of unlicensed people injecting themselves, or even worse, other people.
“I would hate to contribute to this problem,” she explains. "My goal is to keep my social media conceptual, and then create more educational video content for controlled release to practitioners after checking on their licensure.”
Maintaining a safety mindset for you and your patients.
“My ultimate goal with any of my patients is to increase patient satisfaction,” says Leslie. In today’s image-conscious world, that means walking a fine line. Leslie took note of this rising trend and published multiple articles and training modules on screening for body dysmorphia and self-esteem issues stemming from unattainable and unrealistic standards set by social media.
“Now more than ever, it's so important to talk to our patients about mental health and to ask them what their motivators are for committing to a procedure. We have a responsibility to them to make sure that they are in a healthy space before they come to us for these treatments,” she says.
An important step of her patient evaluation and assessment process is a psychological screening. “There has been some research that shows that a portion of Medical Aesthetics patients are trying to fix a problem that is not fixable at all, much less fixable with an aesthetic procedure or treatment, resulting in these patients being unsatisfied with their treatments.”1
To help manage patients’ expectations, in addition to a full psychological screening to identify mental health issues, Leslie provides transparent information about recovery time and real-life downtime, and other aspects of the post-treatment process. Having a thorough pre-procedure medical screening protocol can help with patient safety and patient expectations with the overall experience and outcome.
While Leslie is an experienced injector and high-achieving Medical Aesthetics trainer, injectors who are just starting their careers and those who have been practicing for years can benefit from being inspired by her commitment to patient safety.
On the role mentoring plays in safety.
While Leslie emphasizes credible, reputable training courses, she also points out the importance of having mentors to provide extra guidance and insight, especially when it comes to safety.
“Having a mentor that you can reach out to about how to handle complications is crucial to success in aesthetics. Trainings are great because we can learn all these new evidence-based techniques and anatomy and other great things, but where do you turn when it doesn’t go right? That’s where having a mentor comes in,” she explains.
For injectors like Leslie, part of keeping patients safe is the acknowledgment and understanding that they are indeed patients of a practitioner of medicine, and that Medical Aesthetics, while it is an exciting industry, is foremost a field of medicine, and should be taken just as seriously and safely as all fields of medicine.
About Leslie Fletcher, MSN, RN, AGNP-BC
Board-certified Nurse Practitioner Leslie Fletcher, MSN, RN, AGNP-BC, is a highly respected aesthetic nurse injector who has worked since 2001 with world-renowned celebrity dermatologists and plastic surgeons. In November 2019, she was named the Best Aesthetic Nurse in the US, and her clinic was voted Best Med Spa in the World.
Both distinctions were chosen by her peers at MyFaceMyBody, the largest global aesthetics awards presentation. The medical clinic she founded in 2010, located in Los Angeles, CA, has been ranked in the top 0.05% of the nation for use of neuromodulators and dermal fillers and in 2019 was named one of the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in the U.S.
Bowyer L, Krebs G, Mataix-Cols D, Veale D, Monzani B. A critical review of cosmetic treatment outcomes in body dysmorphic disorder. Body Image. 2016;19:1-8.