Exploring Human Potential

Medical Mall Madness?

Posted on | January 16, 2008 | No Comments

Be careful about having procedures done while out shopping

Before heading out to the mall you may want to do a little research first. Who knows, you may end up coming home with not only new designer shoes and the hottest dress but — oh, yeah — a plumper face and smoother thighs as a part of your shopping spree.

In The New York Times’ Business Section, January 13, 2008, writer Janet Morrissey reports on a new trend in “Having a Little Work Done (at the Mall).”  Morrissey interviews Andrew Rudnick, of SleekMedSpa.

Anyone offering answers to those seeking the fountain of youth may find themselves with a multi-million dollar business. Turning back the clock and looking as young as you feel are only a couple of the hopes for slowing down the aging process.

Morrissey writes, “Mr. Rudnick estimates that 50 percent of his company’s mall clients are walk-ins…”

Okay, people, as a health care professional and advocate of prevention, step on the brakes, stop the presses, and backspace!  Did I just write “50 percent?” Yes, that’s what the article states — 50 percent of clients are walk-ins.  Here is where concern number-one arises.  If 50 percent of clients are walk-ins, I suspect that these consumers have not researched in any way what they are about to embark upon.

I suspect that these consumers are like the shoppers in the supermarket; the ones that impulse buy.  You know who they are — heck we’re probably all (or mostly all) guilty of it at one time or another.  Shoppers who know exactly what they want to purchase – even when armed with a shopping list —  may spot specials and perfectly displayed items. Before they know it, the shopping cart is filled with things they didn’t need. 

So are these mall shoppers, impulse shoppers?  Are they the ones who fill their cart with unnecessary items? I’m not saying trying to capture youth is unnecessary; what I am saying is how can someone so matter-of-factly opt for treatments that could potentially put them in harm’s way without doing any research?

I don’t think anyone would purchase a car without first doing a little research, so why anyone would let someone probe and inject into body areas without doing any bit of homework first? 

Here is where concern number-two comes into play.  Who’s doing the probing and injecting?  Who’s shooting the Botox?  Who’s using the laser?  Who’s inserting the syringe for the Mesotherapy? 

Doctors?  Nurses?  What is the doctor’s specialty?  What is the nurse’s specialty?  What are their credentials?  Is the doctor a specialist in dermatology or plastic surgery?  Is the nurse a nurse practitioner who specializes in the same?  What’s the training?  How many hours of training?  Is the training the same for doctors and nurses?  Once they’re certified, how often is there re-certification?  Who should be doing the injecting?

Who regulates these spas?  What if there’s an emergency?  How is that handled?  Who’s ultimately responsible for ensuring that the spa is safe? 

Morrissey writes:  “For its part, Sleek MedSpa says some of its outlets have onsite physicians while others doctors as medical directors offsite, and nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants who handle day-to-day treatments.  If there were an emergency a nurse couldn’t handle, the nurse would call 911, Mr. Rudnick said.  He added that no such emergency had ever arisen.”  (I suspect a doctor would also call 911 if there was a critical situation where additional help was needed).

Isn’t prevention key?  Isn’t prevention what all health professionals should be shouting from the roof tops?  Although Mr. Rudnick says that an emergency has never arisen, what if one should?  Well, he said 911 would be called, but what kind of emergency equipment is available in these decadent spas?  
The concerns keep growing.  Here is where concern number-three comes into play.  Although these procedures are non-surgical, there are still risks involved.  According to the official website for Botox®, it offers information regarding the safety of the product from drug interactions and potential side effects.   “Serious heart problems and serious allergic reactions have been reported rarely. If you think you’re having an allergic reaction or other unusual symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing, speaking or breathing, call your doctor immediately. The most common side effects following injection include temporary eyelid droop and nausea. Localized pain, infection, inflammation, tenderness, swelling, redness, and/or bleeding/bruising may be associated with the injection. Patients with certain neuromuscular disorders such as ALS, myasthenia gravis, or Lambert-Eaton syndrome may be at increased risk of serious side effects.”

It’s vital that as a consumer of health care you investigate and become fully informed of your choice.

According to The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) more than 1.1 million people had Botox® injections in 2002, representing 15 percent of non-surgical cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. Fifty-four percent of all Botox® procedures were performed on people between the ages of 35-50.

So while we’re searching for a little something that erases lines and plumps up the face for that youthful glow; always do your homework first.

Fast and cheap isn’t always best.  Make sure the health professionals are fully qualified. Make sure they are experts.  Ask to see the credentials.  Always speak up and ask questions. Make sure you are fully informed of the procedure and any potential risks.  Make sure you understand them 100%.  Make sure you take charge of your health, always speak up and ask questions.  Remember, prevention begins with you.  “Always Speak. Ask. Know™.”

And if the Mecca of the malls are Medspas, don’t be an impulse shopper.  Be smart and do your homework first.  Be the best that you can be, but always be a savvy health shopper.  Learn the facts and choose the expert for you.

(Barbara Ficarra is a registered nurse, journalist and founder and executive producer of the radio show “Health in 30™.”  She can be reached at Opinions expressed by Health Commentary guest bloggers do not necessarily represent the views of Health Commentary.)


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