On this page health and social care professionals can complete a short, secure form to refer a patient to our Skin Camouflage Service.
People with a visible difference or disfigurement can experience anxiety and distress due to their condition. As healthcare professionals there are many things you can do to help address your patients’ concerns.
It’s important to recognise the myths that surround visible difference and disfigurement. This will help you properly understand the effect a visible difference can have on the emotional wellbeing of your patient. It is also vital to treat the whole person and not just their condition. You can do this by using appropriate language and asking them broader questions instead of focusing on their physical condition.
On this page, we explore in more detail what you can do as a healthcare professional when supporting patients living with a visible difference or disfigurement.
Our referral guide (PDF 464Kb) summarises the support we offer. You can download and share this with colleagues or keep it to refer to.
- Wellbeing services: We offer a range of free, specialist wellbeing services, including self-help information, a Support and Information Line, access to an Online Community, counselling support and peer group support.
- Skin Camouflage Service: Your patient may also benefit from our Skin Camouflage Service. The service includes a consultation with a trained practitioner to identify a colour match for a person’s skin from a specialist range. We also offer expert advice on using these products at home.
A visible difference on any part of the body can cause concerns for people and prevent them from participating in sport or being intimate with another person. (Clarke 2012)
Research shows psychosocial interventions can be effective in improving quality of life and appearance anxiety. (Di Mattei et al 2015, Norman and Moss 2015)
Patients are often grateful for successful medical treatment, but their recovery is more than the medical outcome. We know that the way we look can affect ways we communicate and relate to others, and so it’s understandable that physical changes after treatment can also have psychological and social effects. (Griffiths et al 2019)
While some individuals with more marked distress will need access from specialist psychological support, it has been shown that other healthcare professionals like nurses can make significant difference to many patients’ wellbeing. (Clarke & Cooper 2001)
“Perceived” severity is a better predictor of adjustment than “objective” severity. (Kleve & Robinson 1999)
Giving patients the opportunity to talk about how they’re feeling can help them feel understood. (Konradsen et al 2012)
Patients are often concerned about taking up health professionals’ time and can feel uncomfortable talking about appearance concerns unless they’re invited to. (Williamson & Rumsey, 2017) We would like to thank Dr Heidi Williamson, Fabio Zucchelli and Dr Olivia Donnelly for helping with this myth-busting section.