Part of my passion as a plastic surgeon in Flower Mound, Texas is in educating others about the medical specialty of cosmetic laser procedures (skin resurfacing, laser hair removal, etc.) and aesthetic injectables and fillers (Botox, Juvederm, etc.).
There has been a fast rise in the popularity of the use of non-invasive or minimally invasive cosmetic laser and injection procedures to help patients prevent and treat their concerns. Newer technology and techniques allow patients to treat their concerns more cost-effectively and conveniently with less downtime (possibly avoiding surgery). For the best results, it is critical that only practitioners who are highly trained perform these procedures. Unfortunately, patients who are looking for a place to receive these treatments often do not know the things to look for in a med spa. I hear too often from someone who has had a problem somewhere else, “I feel stupid, but I never thought this could hurt me or that a physician needed to be involved.” Don’t make the mistake of not knowing.
The following is a list of some things you should know:
Most states have medical laws governing:
Who can do what (what type of practitioners are allowed to perform each procedure)
In what type of facility (generally a physician’s practice)
With how much training (for each person on each individual procedure)
How much the MD has to be involved
Most states require a medical doctor (MD, DO) not a “doctor of who knows what” to be highly trained and physically involved with each procedure, whether performing the procedure him/herself or supervising it.
Med Spas and other similar facilities:
Often do not have a medical doctor on sight
Often do not have a properly trained physician
The physician may not properly see the patient or supervise the procedures
May have a “medical director” whom you never see and/or isn’t properly/legally trained
Have bought cheap, used devices, “black market” devices and fake/expired drugs (i.e. Botox, Fillers)
There are many different manufacturing companies that make med spa technology. Believe me, there are a ton of devices out there. You need to know things like the following:
Not all devices in one category (i.e. laser hair removal, etc.) are created equal. Some devices are cheap like 10K and others cost over 100K.
Some companies will sell these devices to anyone even if they have no formal training.
Do your research. Just because the place looks nice, there is a “medical director” whom you may even see, their advertising and prices look great, and they sound like they give good treatments, doesn’t mean they know what they are doing. Most patients don’t interview their doctor/practitioner as much as they should. Here are some things you should know to ask:
Who is the doctor?
What is his/her training? What is his/her specialty?
How many times have they personally used the device or offered the treatment?
How have their results been?
Have they had any problems or complications (if they say “never” than they are either lying or have not performed it enough to have at least a little issue/problem)?
Have they treated significant others, friends, family?
If it’s not a doctor performing the treatment then ask: is that practitioner legally allowed to perform the procedure? Does he/she have the proper training, number of procedures?
What is his/her before/after care/instructions specific to this procedure?
Finally, if there is a problem, what would they do? Are they comfortable managing side effects and complications? Many of these issues end up being referred to plastic surgeons.
Remember to research and ask questions. Beware of extreme couponing or going cheap on these procedures. While many of the latest aesthetic spa procedures have incredible results, they can damage your skin if a properly trained and experienced specialist does not do them. I have several patients who are embarrassed that they price shopped, came to see me after having a problem or simply no result from a procedure. Don’t take chances with your body and skin. Know the law, who is treating you and specifics about the procedure you are receiving.