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Features / July 24, 2014

An aesthetic dentistry surge

by Guy Hiscott

Irish Dentistry talks to Michael Aicken about the surge of interest in his aesthetic dentistry courses in Northern Ireland

What treatments are covered on the Visage Academy course?

Botulinum toxin type A (sometimes referred to generically as ‘Botox’) and dermal fillers, so this means we cover forehead, frown lines, crow’s feet, undereye, mouth corners, bunny lines and underarm. With the dermal fillers, we incorporate frown line fillers, lipstick lines, lips, nasolabial folds, marionette lines, fine lines or scars, poppy chins and dynamic cheek lines We cover all this in the one-day course – the one thing we don’t inject is underarm, but we do demonstrate how to do it. We also provide course material in advance, so people can spend a day or so studying and then complete an online test before they get stuck into the actual day.

Who can attend?

Dentists, dental hygienists and therapists. Doctors and nurses can also attend, as the content is always relevant to both. It’s a foundation course, too – principally for those who’ve never dabbled with cosmetic dentistry before, or who’ve tried it out a few years back, but never felt that the first course was adequate. Occasionally, we have people who come in for a refresher course, which we also offer. It just helps those who feel they want a bit more practice.

How well have the courses been received in Northern Ireland so far?

We typically fill courses about six to eight weeks in advance, and we have about seven people on each course. Every course in Bangor has been full for almost two years now – I thought it would slow down at some point, but it hasn’t yet. We have people coming from the Republic of Ireland too, who tend to find us online, but we’d certainly like to be able to market to them more specifically soon.

Why did you decide to begin offering the course?

I’m based in Belfast, and about four and a half years ago a nurse contacted me who said she was interested in getting set up to begin offering Botox and fillers. I told her about a course that I had done in England, and we talked about the possibility of her doing the course as well, with further training from me.

We then do around eight hours of training on the day, plus a 30-minute business discussion afterwards

But then I thought: well, actually, why would we send her over to England when she’ll have to pay for flights and accommodation, on top of the course cost, without first finding out how I can do it all myself? It made more sense for me to set up a syllabus and learn how to train others. Once I’d done that, other people fell into my radar who were interested in offering Botox and dermal fillers. They were all friends of friends at first – we had three people on our first course, and we did it all in my house! I have a home clinic room, so we were able to do most of it in my living room and then carry out the treatments in the clinic room.

How does the course work?

We provide pre-course material beforehand, which we advise dentists to study for a day or so. We then do around eight hours of training on the day, plus a 30-minute business discussion afterwards, which usually ends up as a question and answer session, talking about pharmacies and pricing.

Lunch is included, and I’m always on hand to answer questions informally afterwards. And, if people forget to ask questions there or think of something when they’ve left, they can always phone or email me. If I’ve trained them, I’m happy to help. So, I guess I’m telephone and email support as well!

How long until dentists can start prescribing treatments after they’ve completed the course?

They can start straight away! What they would do after the course is get themselves some insurance and a pharmacy. The pharmacy will ask for a certificate from our course in order for them to get set up, which we provide.

If you do our course on the weekend, you could get set up on the Monday and have products delivered on the Tuesday. People like to get straight off the mark with it.

Dr Michael Aicken has been practising cosmetic injectables for six years, and has been running Visage Academy for more than three years. Visit for more information.