I just opened the South Bay Monthly coupon magazine and discovered ads for four spas as well as a pair of traveling doctors. All of them are offering wrinkle treatments such as Botox, Restylane, and Fraxel laser at bargain prices. The traveling doctors say they are board certified in emergency medicine and claim to be associates of “Aesthetic Medicine” although I am not aware that any such certification exists. The doctors offer to provide treatments in your home or will staff a health club.
Patients shopping around for the best “deal” on cosmetic treatments need to be aware that all providers of cosmetic treatments are not equal. Here are some things you should know before you select the lowest cost provider:
- While it is legal in the state of California for nurses to use lasers or treat patients with injections, including cosmetic injections, these treatments legally should be done under the supervision of a physician. Many medi-spas have the name of a doctor on the door, but the doctor is never on site. If you go to a medi-spa, find out how often the doctor is on site.
- A nurse or doctor who learned aesthetic procedures in a weekend course is not an expert. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons learn about aesthetic medicine during their training. Those who include cosmetic treatments in their practice review the latest journals and regularly attend conferences to learn recent updates. Most of the clinical research on cosmetic injections and cosmetic lasers has been done by dermatologists. Although the technique for performing cosmetic injection or laser treatments can be learned, the judgment to know which treatment is right for which patient is not learned in a weekend class.
- If you chose to have treatment in a spa or at home, be aware that these are medical treatments. Find out the credentials and experience of the provider. Is the provider a nurse, doctor or physician’s assistant? Be sure that you are provided with informed consent-that means a detailed discussion of the risks, benefits, and alternative treatments and that you have the opportunity to ask questions. And, ask how you can reach them after hours should you have a problem.
- Are you really getting a bargain? Some medi-spas that advertise Botox at bargain prices, treat patients with fewer units than is optimal for results. While this is not particularly harmful, it may not last as long as you expect. And, is the laser treatment at the medi-spa the right treatment for you. Only an expert can give you the right advice.