Unregulated medical spas: when looks can kill

Full-service medical spas have proliferated exponentially over the past six years. For many, they take the services of a typical beauty salon or day spa to a whole new level. Botox, liposuction and chemical peels offer a promise of renewed youth. Many are thrilled to have easier access to basic cosmetic surgeries like breast augmentation and facelifts. These procedures have also improved significantly over the years, offering better results and less grueling recoveries. But along with beauty comes the beast: poor regulation and the risks of serious injuries, disfigurement or even death.

States are free at present to set their own requirements about standards of care, and many do not even require medical spas to be licensed. Many states seem unconcerned with the administration of invasive, seemingly medical procedures by spa techs with only a certificate or less. Medical students undergo almost a decade of training and residency before performing similar procedures.

Often medical spas are affiliated with specific medical doctors, although their names may do little more than beef up that spa’s legitimacy (and often, price). They may only visit once a month to sign charts or oversee basic functions, and are not available to assist with any procedural complications. Sometimes a physician will supervise procedures, but the unlicensed spa worker will actually perform them.

Unfortunately, Florida’s industry regulations are not among the tightest. Florida only requires a doctor’s presence onsite under specific circumstances, but this may be changing. After two Florida women died from overdoses of a topical anesthetic, the state ruled that all liposuctions removing over two pounds of fat be performed at licensed, emergency-ready surgery centers. Many states are also considering tighter laws about credentials disclosure and transparency for these spas.

Medical spa injuries are tricky to litigate because they may not even involve a licensed medical professional. They may look like textbook medical malpractice cases, and in many cases they are — but if the service was not performed by a doctor, a different approach may be needed. If you have been injured by a medical spa procedure, a lawyer can help sort out these logistics and get you the compensation that you deserve.

SourceThe Washington Times (Communities), “Report: Medical spas: danger or divine?” Paul Samakow, Jun. 30, 2013