I had spoken with a friend of mine several weeks ago. She had been approached by a medi-spa to apply for their management position. She promptly turned them down because she had no medical training and didn’t feel comfortable should something go wrong. I found it interesting that a medical spa would approach someone who is not in the medical field to manage the spa. Come to find out, this is a common practice.
Medical spas are not regulated by the state medical boards or by the department of health. Typically a Doctor will practice there one day a week, or sign off on the medical charts once a week, but does not actually supervise any of the treatments. One Dermatologist from PA, Eric F. Bernstein, says he has had “at least 100 patients from New Jersey who have told [him] that they’ve received laser treatments from aestheticians.” Often times aestheticians or medical assistants are running the lasers due to lack of funds, enforcement, and laws protecting the consumer. In face, you do not need to be a Doctor, or even have any medical experience to open up a Medi-spa.
Lack of training, experience, and funds have led to many serious accidents. One 22-year-old college student went into a coma and died after applying the numbing cream from a North Carolina laser clinic while preparing for her laser removal treatment. A patient of a medi-spa in Panama City, FL, is now so terrified of lasers, she is afraid to receive corrective treatment on her back after a botched sun spot removal. She will have to live with the dark red stripes over her back for the rest of her life. The most terrifying kind of medi-spa dangers is when a Botox injection is misplaced it can cause necrosis, or death of tissue. There have been some dramatic reports of people who have had their lips literally fall off.
While there are extreme cases of medi-spa mishaps, the most common dangers are; third degree burns, lopsided Botox injections, seared flesh, and droopy eyelids. State medical boards are struggling to keep up with consumer demand for aesthetic treatments. In fact according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery the number of cosmetic procedures went from 1.1 million in 1997 to 9.5 million in 2006. Many patients state that there frequent visits to the medi-spas are due to a lack of confidence and a fear of traditional Doctors.
The true danger lies in our culture’s obsession with outside appearances, so much so, that we ignore the inherent risk due to lack of research, and comparing major procedures with manicures and haircuts. It is important to ask your questions before you get any procedure. Here are some important ones to remember:
- Who will be administering the treatment?
- What is their experience/training?
- How many hours of training have they had?
- Are the lasers owned or rented?
- Can you see before and after pictures of patients who have had the treatment done?
- Can you speak to other patients who have had the procedure done?
- What is their policy should a situation arise?
While, there are credible medi-spas out there, it is important to do research, and to ask questions. Remember, it is your body, and you will be the one who is left with the results. So, buyer beware.