Are Medical Spas and Laser Centers the Same Thing?

How do I know that the equipment there is current, or if I am getting a fair price?

Doctor Answers 1

Differences Have Been Obscured

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Names are not as important as who is the true "medical director". I would be sure that the physician in charge is one who has devoted his or her life to skin care. Not a physician who has either "sold out" to a corporatin for the almighty dollar or is using a medical spa for his or her own financial gain.

As I write this I am contemplating whether to attend another seminar sponsered by a laser companies. Although there is a possiblity that I might learn something, I frankly get totally turned off by sitting there with a bunch of Ob-Gyn's, anesthesiologists, etc. listening to them be brow-beaten into setting up spas with to yield a great ROI ( return on investment), lucrative practice enhancements...pays for itself with two treatments a month etc. Greed, greed, greed on all sides. What most of these physicians know about dermatology was probably forgotten a few hours after an exam back in medical school.They relay on their aesthetician or at best a PA to practice dermatology for them.

Let me contrast two situations for you. Last week, I injected Botox into a lady. I noted a suspicious lesion on her neck ( most if not all dermatologists are very amenable to performing skin exams on our patients at no cost). It was biopsied and this afternoon I was called by the pathologist that this was an early melanoma ( melanoma-in-situ).

Compare this with a patient I saw two weeks ago. She consulted me for a rash. I noticed a strange pigmented lesion on her face. It turns out that she had this lesion lasered off several months earlier by a "medical director" of a medical spa ( not in the core cosmetic physicians..derm, PS). I biopsied the lesion and it was interpreted as a severely atypical pigmented lesion with deep dermal involvement. Without elaborating, I feel all pigmented lesions that are going to be lasered should be biopsied first . Better yet, they should be seen by an expert who can determine whether they should be lasered at all.

Another problem I have with some of these medi-spas is that oftentimes the "medical director" is no where to be had. Sometimes, they might be practicing over an hour away. Sure that might be legal, it is in our state, but is it best for the patient in the event of an emergency?

As for the other part of you questions, I would ask what medical device is used by that particular office for the condition for which you want to be treated. You then can do your research on RealSelf by reading of the experiences of others and the opinions of the physcians who contribute here. You can certainly call various offices to see the prices they offer. The cheapest is often not the best, but expensive is not a guarantee of excellence either.

Thanks for allowing me to vent and I hope this has helped.

Virginia Beach Dermatologist

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