Just cause they're called MED spas doesn't mean that an M.D. is behind the door. While their premise entices: medical makeovers in the serene environs of a day spa, the reality isn't always so pleasant. Watch out for these warning signs.
1. Be wary of white lab coats. Anything more complex than a facial (i.e., injections of any kind, lasers, etc.) should be done by an M.D., a physician's assistant or a nurse-practitioner with proof of training in the specific procedures you're there for. Remember, looking like a doc is not the same as actually being one.
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2. Avoid a burn notice. The riskiest treatment? Anything that involves a laser (aka extreme heat aimed directly at your skin) such as skin resurfacers and hair removal techs. The disastrous aftermath of a botched laser procedure can include facial discoloration in odd shapes (think checkered or zebra-like patterns) which mimic the shape of the laser imprint or even worse--third-degree burns.
3. Take caution at consultations. Your first impression is the most crucial. If a spa fails to take your medical history, that's a red flag that something might not be right. And having a supervising doctor on site in case of an emergency, not just on call, is a must for your safety. Another important measure--the spa should be willing to connect you with someone your same age and skin type who's had the procedure done to ask their opinion on the experience and the results.
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4. Probe what's in needles. Before receiving an injection of any kind (from fillers to Botox or even hormones), visit FDA.gov to confirm the substance is approved for the use the med spa is proposing. While in the chair, ask to examine the packaging yourself to be sure it looks genuine. Buyer beware of too-good-to-be true discounts as they often just that. An extremely cheap price could mean you aren't truly getting what you think you're paying for.\
5. Link to the law. Do your research! Individual states are responsible for regulating med spas but have been slow in doing so. Visit FSMB.org to find a link to your state's medical board, which can supply info on local laws.
For more information on stay safe anti-agers, check out the full article, Dr. Feel Young, from the August issue of SELF. --Nicole Cantanese
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