Medical Spa Quality of Care

If I go to a medical spa for a laser treatment or Botox injection will I get the same level of care as I would in a traditional doctor or dermatologist's office?

Doctor Answers 5

Medical Spa treatments: buyer beware

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There is no regulation with a medical spa, so it is a bit of "buyer beware."

In the state of California, there are owners of medispas that do not have even a medical license. Other medical spas can be owned by emergency room doctors, family physicians, or general surgeons who have never had any training whatsoever in aesthetic procedures in their life.

The first thing to do is find out who owns and works and oversees the work in the spa. If it is a "core physician" who had training in skin care uses, like a dermatologist, or an ENT physician, or even better yet, a board certified Plastic Surgeon who is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, you can be sure that in residency he or she obtained training in skin care, fillers and injections. When you go to one of these "core physicians", you are making sure that your medical care is not left up to a weekend course in "how to."

In the state of California, there are some "medical spas" in strip malls, that are not even run by a physician, but rather by a nurse or even someone who has no medical experience at all that then rents a medical director who may not even have a license in the state of California. There are laws to preclude this from happening, but there are just not enough funds to police the enforcement of good medical practices to keep this from happening.

The Physicians Assistants and nurses who work for me have not only done some special training from companies that sell fillers and Botox (like Allergan, Medicis, and Luminus), but I also proctor them by watching them do a number of fillers and/or Botox injections (usually 15 of each) before I can conclude that they have had sufficient experience to treat patients on their own. All of them have worked with me in the operating room at some time, and all of my staff have had Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).

We routinely have quality assurance meetings with my staff to go over policies, procedures and technique best practices in Plastic Surgery. These policies ensure that my patients' care is the same as in my main Plastic Surgery practice. I am sure that many of the "strip mall medi spas" do not have this level of care or training.

Never be afraid to ask your provider what training or oversight they get in treating patients, and where they get their policies and procedures from. My nurses are proud of their extra training, as am I, and love talking about and sharing with patients the extra pains that we have gone through to ensure safety and the use of best practices available today. Also, to get the best results, don't be afraid to ask if the Medical Director is a board certified Dermatologist or Plastic surgeon.

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

It depends on the medical spa and the doctor's office...

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It depends on the medical spa and the doctor's office.

When you are considering a procedure, be sure that you are evaluated by a trained and experienced physician before undergoing any type of medical procedure. Remember - even though laser treatments and facial injections have become common place, they are still medical treatments with complications. Each state has different regulations but generally any physician can administer facial injections and oversee laser treatments, regardless of training or background. In some situations, patients are never evaluated by a physician before undergoing treatment.

Don't be fooled by the cheapest option available - often it can become the most costly option if revision procedures are necessary to correct complications.

D.J. Verret, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon

Medical spa vs. doctor's office

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Don't judge a book by its cover!

Medical spas provide a great - and often beautiful - environment to receive aesthetic procedures.

When receiving ANY aesthetic procedure, the most important thing to do is find out WHO will be providing the treatment and WHAT their qualifications are.

For treatments like laser, fillers, and Botox that can siginificantly alter your appearance, make sure that you are being treated by a physician and that they have received training in this procedure. The best way to do this is to make sure your doctor is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

You can easily check to see if your doctor is board certified and in WHICH specialty by visiting the Web Reference link below.

Dr. Pazmino

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Possibly you will get the same care but why take a...

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Possibly you will get the same care but why take a chance. The medical spa industry is not regulated the same way a physician's office is. Typically, a plastic surgeon's office is nationally accredited (AAAASF, AAAHC etc.) which requires an extremely high level of safety and competence and regular re-evaluation. The prices are usually relatively comparable between medical offices and spas so why risk your health at a spa? For sure, there will be no doctor on site at a spa during your treatment!

Credentials matter vs. medical facility

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Either environment can produce quality results for Botox or laser. The important aspect is the credentials and expertise of the individual conducting the treatment.

Too frequently, inferior medspas have their practitioners complete a weekend course and are then told that they can go out and do the treatment. However, if the practitioner (especially if it is a board certified physician) is experienced and skilled, then you will have a quality result in either environment.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 56 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.