Where Should I Have Photofacial Done?

I am considering having Photofacial. Should I have it done, from the spa or a laser center?

Doctor Answers 3

No Question A Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon run Institution

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Let me second Dr. Ting's sage advice.

Most of the time either choice is acceptable. Most of the time nothing goes wrong. Most of the time results are equal. However, why take a chance? You might be one of those people who who was not destined to be one of the"most of the time people".

Perhaps, two experiences I had with such spas can bring our sentiments more drama than a 500 word essay.

I saw a patient who had sustained a laser burn ( hair removal) in a so-called medi-spa. She had unsuccessfully tried to contact the medical director. When I tried, by calling the spa, my call was no more fruitful. Turns out the medical director is an internist working in Richmond. While technically this is within a 2 hour drive to Virginia Beach, and therefore meets the state law, this lack of availablity can obviously create problems. Besides the time difference, one wonders how well an internist can handle an emergency laser burn. By the way, the internist never did return my call, a courtesy ethical physicians bestow on each other.

Another time, one of my patients presented with a severe facial rash. This occurred the day after a laser treatment on the face. She had returned to the medi-spa and was told she was having an allergic reaction. She was given a steroid cream. When this worsened, she consulted me, her dermatologist. She had a herpes infection. ( She admitted that she told the spa people she did not get cold sores, having forgotten that she had them as a little girl). This was treated and she did well without scarring.

I realize that many people are treated in these places everyday. In many cases the ambience is pleasant and it seems like nothing can go wrong. But just as you would not want me to excise your ovarian cyst, or your plastic surgeon treat your seizure disorder, so you should not want a gynecologist or a neurologist treating your skin problems.

Virginia Beach Dermatologist


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I would recommend that you have the photofacial done at a facility that is directed by a board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist.

Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 229 reviews

Demand supervision by board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon for all aesthetic procedures

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The most important question is if something were to go wrong, does the board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon vs. a medical director, who is several miles away and most likely not a core aesthetic board-certified specialist know what to do. Everyone should strive to be a well-informed consumer and be informed of possible complications of any procedure and steps that will be taken to prevent them. Possible risks of photofacial (IPL) include blistering, secondary infection, reactivation of herpes virus, postinflammatory pigmentation among others. You may end up having to spend more money to address potential complications incurred at a local spa in a mall vs. a laser center directly supervised by a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

William Ting, MD
Bay Area Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.