5 Questions to Ask At Your Medical Spa

botox-to-go-axel-hecht

True or False (answers below):

1. Botox and laser treatments are easy and can be done by an aesthtician or spa staff.

2. A physician must be present at all times in a spa that performs procedures.

3. Chemical or facial peels are safe and can be done in a beauty salon.

The term “spa” is derived from a town in Belgium where healing waters have been used to promote health since Roman times. “Spa” is now loosely used to describe any relaxing environment or beauty salon where rest, health and beauty are promoted.

At one time it was easy to distinguish among a beauty salon, barber shop and a doctor’s office. Not anymore. As cosmetics has become more medical and medicine has become more cosmetic, the two have met in the ubiquitous Medi-Spa. An establishment labelled a medical spa or medi-spa is generally one where medical procedures are performed or medicines are administered in the pursuit of beauty.

There is nothing inherently wrong with extending the field of medicine to include the state of beauty. Nor do I think it is problematic for the field of cosmetics and aesthetics to use medicine and surgery to accomplish its goals of making you more beautiful. But as a consumer, the burden is upon you to know what you are buying and from whom.

The allure of income from cosmetics is great, and physicians of all specialties have incorporated it into their medical practices. Gynecologists offer Restalyne, opthamologists offer Botox, family practice physicians have laser hair removal in their offices.

You do not need to be a dermatologist or plastic surgeon to perform cosmetic medicine. In Southern California there is even a pediatrician who treats cellulite (on adults, of course). This does not mean that he is unqualified to perform your cellulite treatment — he might be quite good at it.

More concerning is the fact that many people with no medical license are performing procedures. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to ask what qualifications and experience people treating you at the medi-spa have so you can make an informed decision.

Anytime an injection is given, a prescriptive device (such as a laser) is used, or a drug is prescribed, a licensed physician must be responsible for your care. Only licensed providers such as registered nurses, nurse practioners, or physician assistants can perform procedures. Other staff such as medical assistants or aestheticians are not licensed and are prohibted from practicing medicine.

The next time you go to the spa, be sure to ask the following questions for your safety:

  1. Who is performing the procedure?
  2. What is his or her license?
  3. What experience has he or she had?
  4. What are some complications or bad outcomes that have occurred?
  5. Is a physician present in the facility or nearby to assist if there is a problem?

Photo: Axel Hecht

Answer to questions 1-3: false.

Eating Sunscreen, Dirty Makeup, Bad Botox and Bedbugs

Post image for Should You Eat Sunscreen?

  • Summer is over. What should you do with all that left-over sunscreen? Don’t eat it. Nano particles in some sunscreens can be harmful to your insides according to the fabulous Beauty Brains.
  • Are you a dirty girl or is it just your makeup that’s dirty? Dr. Baumann gives you tips on keeping cosmetics clean.
  • Ewwwwh! Bedbugs are everywhere. What the heck are bedbugs anyway? And no, they are not from undocumented immigrants.
  • Bad, bad, Botox. Bella Sugar breaks down Botox maker’s bad behavior. How often do you think Big Pharma goes too far in marketing their drugs?

Behold, The Holy Grail of Wrinkle Creams: A Topical Botox

You think Apple’s new 4G iPhone is hot?

I was at a coffee bar in Redwood City yesterday, minding my own business when I found a tube of medication. Someone had accidently left a tube of topical Botox at the bar. Was this a plant? Is this the real prototype or just a fake? What should DermodoDoc do? I just had to blog on it.

Botulinum toxin is the most common cosmetic treatment with millions of patients injected every year. Brand names like Botox and Dysport are injectable drugs that cause temporary paralysis of the muscles in your face smoothing wrinkles, sometimes dramatically.

Injected botulinum toxin is also a good treatment for excess sweating in your underarms or on your hands, which is called hyperhidrosis. The toxin blocks the signals that turn on sweating thereby preventing you from sweating.

Up to now, the only way to use Botox has been to inject it. That may change. There is a topical botulinum toxin gel being developed. If the toxin could penetrate the skin, then  it could work without having to be injected, which is a good thing since there are people out there who really don’t like needles. Topical botulinum toxin would likely be most effective in places where the skin is thin, such as the underarms. Getting enough medication to penetrate your forehead might be difficult. How effective it will be for treating wrinkles is yet to be seen.

We will have to wait to see when the product is finally released. Until then, I’m waiting for Steve Jobs to call me personally to ask for his Botox back. It must be his, right?

Photo: Izaeus |Argazkiak, flickr

Depressed? Maybe Your Psychiatrist Will Prescribe Botox.

Botox makes you happy. So does a new Lexus, but I can’t prescribe that.

Botox® temporarily freezes dynamic lines such as crow’s feet and forehead wrinkles. When Botox is done well, it can raise your eyebrows and make your face appear well rested, younger, happier. Botox also makes it difficult to furrow your brow or frown.

Too much Botox freezes your face, making it expressionless (which could be seen in both winners and losers at the recent Golden Globes: Were they happy? Sad? Shocked? Who could tell?).

Because Botox can make people look better, it’s no surprise that people who get Botox are happier afterwards. A review in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology actually looked at the cost of treating depressed patients with Botox. Here’s the reasoning: If you cannot frown because of Botox, then your mind will interpert this as you feel less angry or sad. Preliminary studies showed that people treated with Botox had more positive emotions and felt less depressed after their treatment.

While the logic is easily followed (and is emphatically supported by people who ordinarily pay cash for their Botox), the science is absent. There are no studies that show Botox improves depression as compared to placebo, therapy, or antidepressants. Much more research would have to be done to show that there is a real benefit (it would be  interesting to compare Botox to simply giving people $500 in cash and teaching them to frown less).

Depression is a disease and is never fixed quickly. Treating depression always requires effort, often requires therapy, and sometimes requires medication. I doubt that medication will be Botox. Or a new Lexus.

Photo: Geekadman Flickr.com

Botox Might Help Shrink Pores, Reduce Excess Oil

Botox® (botulinum toxin A) is a popular and effective treatment for wrinkles. Now using Botox might have another benefit, reducing large pores on the skin.

Having pores that are too big on the nose and forehead is a common complaint from men in clinic. Men have a higher density of sebaceous glands than women and sometimes have excessively oily skin with wide, deep pores. Excess oiliness and big pores can be difficult to treat. Surgical treatments such as lasers, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels can be used to improve the appearance, but results are often not satisfactory. Topical retinoids such as Retin-A® and Tazorac® can also effective in some people, but require applying the medication daily. Continue reading “Botox Might Help Shrink Pores, Reduce Excess Oil”