Cosmetic procedures have been around for years and, when administered by qualified medical professionals, are considered to be safe (there is always some risk in any medical procedure.) But in recent years, procedures such as botox injections, chemical peels and laser treatments can be found at a spa. While many of these spas work hard to keep their clients safe, some aren’t so careful.
- In 2010, Anivia Cruz-Dilworth, from new Brunswick, N.J., was indicted on three counts of allegedly injecting women with buttock boosting injectables. A number of women ended up in the hospital with serious bacterial infections. Last year, Dilworth’s case was dismissed due to “the indictment not specifying which subsection the grand jury found she had violated.” 
- Sheri Berg was given a prescription-strength numbing cream to use on her legs prior to a hair removal laser procedure. She applied it to her legs, wrapped them in cellophane. She was later found unconscious in her car, having convulsions. She died 10 days later. The technicians at Laser Works did not have a license to practice and yet were using prescription strength lasers and using prescription strength numbing cream.
- More recently, Isabel Gonzalez, who received facial rejuvenation injections at a spa in Florida ended up in the hospital for more than two months with facial swelling and infections. Doctors are concerned her facial disfigurement may be permanent. The spa owner, Viviana Ayala did not have a medical license and has been charged with practicing medicine without a license.
Unfortunately, these stories are occurring more and more often. This may be because these types of procedures are becoming more mainstream, giving people a false sense of security. When botox shots are available at your local spa, for less money than at the doctor’s office, you assume they are safe, you assume they are cheaper because you don’t have to pay exorbitant medical fees. But these medical procedures are safe for exactly for that reason, that a trained, qualified medical professional is performing the procedure and not only understands how to perform the procedure but what to do when there are complications.
Laws surrounding spas, medical spas and medical procedures may vary from state to state. For example, one state may allow physician’s assistants or nurse practitioners to prescribe medication or perform certain procedures while other states may not. According to an article in the Miami Herald, the problem isn’t just unlicensed practitioners but licensed practitioners that aren’t trained, “medical professionals of nearly every ilk – from ophthalmologists to dentists to gynecologists, as well as physician assistants and nurse practitioners – are not jumping on the youth-enhancing bandwagon.” 
If you choose, like many millions of individuals, to use cosmetic procedures to help look younger or enhance your appearance, take the time to do your homework. Whether in a doctor’s office, a medi-spa or a spa, it is your right to ask questions before agreeing to the procedure. Some questions to ask:
- Is the procedure completed by a board-certified, licensed physician (in plastic surgery or dermatology)? Has he or she been properly trained in this area?
- If the procedure is completed by a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner, who is the doctor who oversees the procedure? Is the doctor on-site during the procedure?
- Are before/after pictures available of others who have had this procedure completed (at this facility and with this doctor)?
- Who is on-hand if complications arise during the procedure? Who is financially responsible if complications arise or if revisions are needed?
- How do you deal with emergencies?
- What other options are available? What are the pros and cons of each option?
Once you receive credentials, check them out. Contact your state’s medical oversight department or contact the association – either The American Society of Plastic Surgeons or The American Academy of Dermatology to ask about certification. Dr. Claudio L. Delorenzi, Past President of the Canadian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, also warns consumers to be wary of low prices; fake injectables can be dangerous.
If you aren’t satisfied with the answers you receive, search for another doctor or facility. You may want to start with your family doctor, or another medical professional you trust, for recommendations to reputable plastic surgeons and dermatologists in your area.
 “Case Thrown Out for New Brunswick Model Who Authorities Say Provided Faulty Buttocks-Enhancing Injections,” 2011, Oct 28, David Giambusso, The Star Ledger
“Dangers with Unqualified Cosmetic Injectors and Illegal Substances on the Rise,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Physicians Coalition for Injectable Safety
 “Med Spas Offering Cosmetic Procedures Are on the Rise,” 2012, Aug 27, Ina Paiva Cordle, Miami Herald
“Spa Cosmetic Procedures Can Be Risky,” 2012, Oct 4, Liz Neporent, ABCNews
“You Got a License for That?” 2009, Dec, Daniel Walters, InHealth NW
Published On: October 04, 2012