These days, cosmetic
procedures are more accessible than ever. People are getting Botox while on cruises, chemical peels at the beauty salon and having beauty parties where lips are plumped and wrinkles are smoothed away with quick injections.
One expert estimates onboard cruise spas generate up to $520 million annually worldwide and tips on how to host a great Botox party litter the Internet. But having Botox and other cosmetic procedures in simple reach doesn’t minimize your need to research who’s wielding the needle.
Angie’s List, the nation’s premier provider of consumer reviews
on local service companies and doctors
, including plastic surgeons
, took a look at cosmetic procedures recently. The results revealed an eye-grabbing statistic: Nearly 10 percent of those who had undergone a cosmetic procedure had some complications and considered the experience a negative one.
“One of our members from the Houston area trusted a local nail salon employee to give her a chemical peel and got burned – literally,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks. “The employee used chemicals that were too harsh, and the member suffered a burning irritation for several days that caused so much pain, she had difficulty sleeping. She made a full recovery, but she now advises others to stick to manicures and pedicures in the salon and to rely on licensed doctors for medical work.”
The term “cosmeceutical” encompasses a blurry category of products that act as both drugs and cosmetics. As a variety of cosmetic procedures -- such as wrinkle-reducing injections and chemical peels -- continue to intermix, so too does the range of providers offering those services; and many are taking the procedures right to people’s homes. Often, those who participate in so-called “beauty parties” leave unhappy with the results, or worse, scarred.
“Because adverse effects can occur as a result of these procedures, they should be done only under the supervision of a licensed, board certified physician,” Hicks said. “If a complication does arise, you want to make sure a doctor is nearby to manage the problem.”
Licensed estheticians are trained to perform certain chemical peels, facials and laser hair removal, but should still be working under the direction of a physician, Hicks said.
The Angie’s List poll also revealed:
- 15 percent have undergone a voluntary cosmetic procedure; another seven percent are considering one.
- 45 percent of those who had a procedure had work done to reduce the aging effects on their eyes, face and neck, and most had the work done by a physician/dermatologist.
- Nearly 15 percent of those had the procedure outside a doctor’s office or hospital.
- 7 percent had the work done by someone who was not licensed.
Cosmetics are defined by the Food and Drug Administration as a product applied to the body to clean, beautify, enhance or alter appearance. The FDA defines a drug as any substance that alters the structure of function of some process in the body. FDA approval is required for any cosmetic product that has drug properties, whereas cosmetics do not need approval for effectiveness before they are sold to the public.
“Some of these cosmetic procedures are becoming quite common and are often viewed as having little consequences,” Hicks said. “Going abroad to have these types of procedures done -- or having them done at a salon or spa -- could pose some serious risks.”
Angie’s 5 Pre-Cosmetic Procedure Tips
*1,026 Angie’s List members responded to the online poll in August 2008
- Raise some eyebrows: Don’t rely solely on the doctor’s web site or an advertisement Look for a physician who is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or the American Academy of Dermatologists and is board certified. Check Angie’s List for unbiased source of patient reviews. If you go to a “medi-spa” or salon, insist on having a licensed, certified doctor on hand during the procedure.
- Take a look – and a listen: Ask for visuals of your doctor’s past work. “Before and after pictures” offer a great opportunity to see the doctor’s work. Many doctors have patients on whom they have previously performed the same procedure who agree to speak with prospective patients about their experience.
- Sleep on it: Put plenty of thought into your choice and the reasons for it before going through with any type of cosmetic procedure. You should fully understand the risks, benefits, side effects and potential complications of the procedure.
- Take off the rose-colored glasses: Manage your expectations about your looks immediately and post-recovery. Your doctor should be very clear in explaining to you what you should realistically expect, alert you to any warning signs and be available to help should you have unwelcome outcomes.
- Do it for the person in the mirror: Doctors recommend that you make certain that you want the procedure and that it’s not done to appease your significant other or someone other than yourself.
Angie’s List collects consumer reviews on local contractors and doctors in more than 500 service categories. Currently, more than 1 million consumers across the U.S. rely on Angie’s List to help them make the best hiring decisions. Members get unlimited access to local ratings via Internet or phone, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List magazine and help from the Angie’s List complaint resolution service. Take a quick tour of Angie’s List and view the latest Angie’s List news.