Safety Before Beauty

On March 11th of this year, a prominent newspaper, the Boston Herald reported on something that has actually been happening for some time now: an increase in the number of reports regarding scarring and burning incidents by some of the facilities calling themselves “medical spas”. Many of the cases go unreported due to the embarrassment patients feel in having been “duped” by low cost “medi-spas”. It has gotten so bad, in fact, that a special task force has been created by the state Board of Medicine in Massachusetts to investigate.

The problem is not limited to Boston. There is growing concern in our own backyard of Santa Clarita. What is causing this reduction in consumer safety? What can consumers do to protect themselves better?

The article goes on to highlight the fact that there are inconsistent regulations governing who can call themselves a “medical spa”. In California, regulations governing who can conduct common surgical procedures such as Botox injections and laser hair removal are different than those in many other states. As any certified provider knows, it is not as simple as knowing how to use the machines! There are nuances involved in making sure the intensity of the settings match the unique makeup of the skin it is being applied to. Improper technique may result in severe burns to the patient.

This is not to say that medical spas, as a whole, are unsafe. Rather, it highlights the fact that consumers need to make sure that they are well informed before choosing a provider. The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies. In an industry where price competition is increasing, the article warns patients to be careful they do not select a cosmetic surgery practice that is making cost cuts to the quality of its care in order to bring prices down.

So, what should a prospective customer look for? Always make sure the provider has a Board Certified physician with at least three years of training in a specialty dedicated to the study of skin and cosmetic procedures on staff. Just like you would want your lawyer to have passed the California bar exam or your accountant to have a CPA, you want to make sure your provider has passed strict guidelines in their knowledge and practice of skin care. In other words, know your physician!

Also, make sure that this physician is not just a “name”. Some medispas claim to have a Board Certified physician on staff, but this does not mean they are on the premises! Find out who will be performing the procedure, what their qualifications are and whether or not the physician will be on site during the procedure.

Finally, find out more about local laws pending that are related to the regulation of this fast growing industry. Consumer protection is borne from consumer action. Don’t let unqualified practitionners ruin what is, essentially, an industry dedicated to enhancing people’s lives. Skin care is not just about appearance; it is about health. We need to make sure that anyone providing such services is monitored as carefully as any other medical field.

For more information about skin care safety, please contact Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Care at 661.254.3686, or visit our Web site at