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Socio-aesthetics is an oncological well-being treatment that allows relaxation, management of emotions and the discovery – or rediscovery – of the pleasure of taking care of oneself. Studies show that it could be considered as supportive care in oncology because of its effect against pain.

There socio-aesthetic offers many types of care, such as facial, foot and hand care (manicure, nail polish), make-up, beauty or product advice, or body or head massage. The Center Hospitalier de Valence (26), which offered socio-aesthetic care only to women with breast cancer extended this practice. More patients, men and women, were able to benefit from socio-aesthetic care.

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The nurses realized that after the visit of the socio-esthetician, the patients were better and that their pain was improved. » reports the the Dr Guillaume Buiret, Head of the ENT and Cervicofacial Surgery Department at the CH of Valence. Two studies were then carried out in this hospital center, with the support of the Apicil Foundation.*

Socio-aesthetic care: a reduction in pain in oncology

The first study, which aimed to assess the reduction of pain provided by socio-aesthetics, was conducted on 157 patients, with slightly more women than men. ” Of these 157 patients, 28% were painful. After a socio-aesthetic session, the numerical pain rating scale (from 1 to 10, for mild to unbearable pain) had gone from 4.27/10 to 2.52/10 informs Dr. Guillaume Buiret.

One of the important lessons of this study? THE touch based body massages, feet or hands, feet or is the gesture that showed the most analgesic effect (compared to advice on the use of make-up or care). A second study focused on the evaluation of different treatments and practices (socio-aesthetics, plantar reflexology, sophrology and singing). ” It showed again an analgesic action of socio-aesthetics says Dr. Buiret.

Socio-aesthetics: support care?

A multi-center study (several centers: Valence Hospital, Nice Cancer Center, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris and Tours University Hospital) including a larger number of oncology patients is underway.

The aim is to show that the effect of a socio-aesthetic treatment with human intervention is better than the placebo (self-application of dermo-cosmetic treatments). We are going to compare in two groups of 200 patients each the effects on well-being and pain of socio-aesthetic care. If we show differences between the two groups, this will demonstrate that it is human intervention that has a benefit describes Dr. Buiret.

If socio-aesthetics confirms its interest on a population scale as non-drug analgesic therapyreimbursement organizations could decide to pay for socio-aesthetic care such as that which is recognized as supportive care.


Guillaume Buiret, Sarah Sandonato, Frédéric Chidiac, Sophie Lantheaume, Analgesic effects of socio-aesthetics in cancer patientsCancer Bulletin, Volume 108, Issue 11, 2021, Pages 1030-1035

Buiret G, Lantheaume S. Well-being treatments in cancer care: patient benefitsBMJ Supportive & Palliative Care Epub ahead of print: doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2021-003458

* The APICIL Foundation, committed to relieving pain, has been Recognized as a Public Utility since its creation in 2004. More info: www.fondation-apicil.org

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