Doctors voice concern over popularity of medi-spas

October 23, 2012

Doctors voice concern over popularity of medi-spas
Doctors voice concern over popularity of medi-spas

Plastic surgery has become more popular in recent years, so it may come as no surprise that the locations where patients can receive treatments like Botox injections or dermal fillers have expanded. However, some of these facilities are worrying board-certified plastic surgeons, as they may offer procedures carried out by untrained or unlicensed individuals, which puts patients at risk of medical complications.

Leo McCafferty, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), recently spoke to The Associated Press about the increasing number of medical spas in the U.S. Such facilities draw in customers by using names or posting advertisements that make them sound as though they can offer the same quality of plastic surgery one would receive in an accredited, safe facility.

"There is a bit of a Wild West out there," McCarfferty told the news source. He says some procedures, like chemical peels, can be performed in medical spas, but other cosmetic procedures should be reserved for medically trained professionals only. "I think the risks would increase exponentially if you are getting it in a place that is not following the tried-and-true guidelines that have been in place for safe surgery."

The news source cites a recent incident at such a facility known as Monarch Med Spa, in Timonium, Maryland. It was shut down after one woman died and two others were hospitalized following liposuction procedures, likely due to an infection. The spa was part of a chain of such facilities, all of which are now under investigation, the news source reports.

Perhaps even more frightening is that the website for the facility boasted of "board certified" surgeons, though it listed no affiliation with any of the medical boards that accredit plastic surgeons.

A plastic surgeon based in Philadelphia told the AP that he often sees patients coming in to correct procedures that they had done at a medical spa. He says these individuals were often looking to save money on their cosmetic surgery, but ended up getting botched or less-than-satisfying work. In some cases, he says, employees at the medical spas who conducted the procedure will call him and ask for help.

ASAPS urges patients to inquire about a surgeon's experience, accreditation and previous procedures. He or she can ask to see before and after photos to get an idea of what the surgeon is capable of. The ASAPS website offers a find-a-surgeon feature to help patients locate a professional in their area. 

The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.


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