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The Truth About Med Spas

Submitted by Bernabe Vazquez on August 27, 2012


By: Dr. Bernabe Vazquez, MD, FACS

The lead article in today’s Business Monday of The Miami Herald features the phenomenon of ever more popular Med Spa’s and their encroachment into Plastic Surgery. The article is titled Med spas offering cosmetic procedures are on the rise, or should be titled Med Spa Mania, accurately describes the dangerous situation now descending on many metropolitan areas, South Florida, unfortunately, being in the lead. Due to the extremely lax and, frankly, irresponsible state regulations, any physician in Florida can practice any field of Medicine including Plastic Surgery by simply having a medical degree. Although there are strict restrictions as to what a physician can do in a hospital; however, once they operate outside the hospital, say, in their office or a private center, the situation changes.

Enter the Med Spa. Think of a beauty salon on steroids. Now rather than getting a rinse or a facial, the client is now offered a variety of procedures including injectable fillers, chemical peels, lasers and liposuction as well as gradually more involved surgical procedures. At this stage, by definition, the patron should be referred to as a patient rather than client and conventional reason dictates that patients require a doctor for treatment.

The article points out that under Florida Law, not only can any physician, regardless of their training or expertise, perform all these procedures but also physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners. So the possibility exists that in the same establishment where clients are getting their hair styled, in a different room under the same roof, someone else is getting a full face laser or injected with any number of products by someone pretending to be a Plastic Surgeon! All of these procedures, despite being labeled “minimally invasive”, are still invasive and do involve some physical penetration of the human body.

Lets face it folks, we are talking about Plastic Surgery. You may call it what you want, but any procedure which alters the physical anatomy of a person particularly to improve their appearance should be considered Plastic Surgery. Who better than a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon should perform Plastic Surgery? Conversely, most people would not go to a plastic surgeon to get a root canal or their hair colored! Why would any one think that it is ok to go to a dentist or hair dresser to inject a filler into their face or, heaven forbid, a more involved surgical procedure?

We are a convenience oriented society and make no mistake about it the marketing departments of these Med Spa enterprises are fully aware of this and situate their offices in locations that offer easy and comfortable access. So as The Miami Herald article points out many of these Med Spas are located in shopping malls to give the impression that a visit to their center is just one more stop between a department store and picking up your dry cleaning. This is a serious misconception as these procedures are not the same thing as simply buying a new blouse. These procedures have to be regarded as medical in nature despite the onslaught of media marketing to the contrary.

Botox, Dysport, Restylane, Juvederm, lasers, chemical peels, liposuction under local anesthesia are all procedures involving FDA and Medical Board regulation. These are all cosmetic (ie: plastic) surgical procedures and should only be performed by someone with adequate training in a physicians office.

In Closing, Med Spas may be convenient and your dentist might be a nice guy but please use common sense when obtaining facial injections or any other surgical procedure.