Dangers of Cheap Laser and Bargain Botox

A remarkably successful, intelligent friend of mine passed along marketing material from one of the many subscriptions-based, "accessible," med spas that are popping up in test markets like NYC and LA.  She is not the first friend of mine to ask me about these med spas offering quickie beauty treatments marketed in an approachable, no side-effect, rebranded way.  

These med spas refer to laser treatments as "laser facials" making them seem less invasive and as risky as a facial with your aesthetician.  They offer a menu that packages injectables like Botox, Dysport, Restylane and Juvederm into catchy, well-branded services.  While their marketing and branding is very effective, it discounts the risks associated with these cosmetic procedures.  

Laser treatments are not facials.  The right laser set to the appropriate settings can help with fine lines, brown spots, wrinkles, pore size and overall skin texture and tone, which is fabulous, but they can also cause burns, scars, worsening of skin discoloration and even blindness.  The wrong laser or too conservative of a setting on a laser can also be a waste of money and even less efficacious than a facial.  In my practice, I perform procedures with proven results with settings that give a real change in the skin.

Additionally, filler treatments are amazing at restoring volume and creating a sexy lip pout, but they are also not without their risks.  Fillers most commonly can cause bruising and swelling, but blindness and skin necrosis are also real, potential risks.

Beyond risks, an injectors skill level also plays an important role in "getting what you paid for."  I have transformed a face with 2 well-placed syringes of filler, while other injectors on a face with similar needs can place 6-8 syringes in the wrong place and at inappropriate depths  and provide little improvement at a remarkably increased cost and risk to the patient.

Some of these med spas suggest that they "specialize" in aesthetic treatments and do not waste time with skin checks and skin cancer.  Some imply that since this is all they do that they are somehow more expert and skilled at lasers and injectables.  I would wholeheartedly disagree.  I would strongly argue these are added bonuses and should be requirements for those performing these procedures.  Performing laser on a sun spot that is in reality a melanoma is dangerous.  The additional skills at diagnosing and treating skin cancer and deep understanding of anatomy are essential for protecting our patient's safety and allows an effective, cost-efficient treatment plan to be formulated.  Not all brown spots are created equal and knowing what the spot is and what lasers or treatments will improve the spot saves a patient time and money.  Knowing danger zones in addition to the anatomy of the volume loss allows for expert placement getting you the best results with the least amount of syringes.  

In the hands of a well-trained board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon you are more likely to get a patient-centric, cost effective treatment plan where potential risks are lessened.  Most importantly, in instances when complications do occur, albeit rarely in the hands of an expert, a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon can manage these side effects.  Please inquire about your cosmetic provider's credentials to ensure you are getting your treatments from an expert.