“Dermatologic Surgery” study paves way for new Medical Spa Safety Model Legislation aimed and keeping patients safer during cosmetic treatments performed by non-physicians in a spa setting


ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill., JUNE 11, 2019 – A recent study reveals that the number of unsatisfactory outcomes and injuries in patients receiving cosmetic dermatologic treatments increases significantly when performed by non-physician providers.

The study, “Non-physician Practice of Cosmetic Dermatology: A Patient and Physician Perspective of Outcomes and Adverse Events” was published in the April 2019 issue of “Dermatologic Surgery,” the official journal of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS). The study found that due to the increasing interest among consumers for cosmetic procedures – as evidenced by the 2018 ASDS Consumer Survey on Cosmetic Dermatologic Procedures – non-physicians are meeting this demand in both medical and non-medical settings.

Acknowledging this, the study sought to examine the outcomes of cosmetic procedures performed by both physicians and non-physicians and determine the post-treatment perspectives of patients and physicians. The authors (ASDS members Anthony M. Rossi, MD, Brian P. Hibler, MD, and Lynn A. Drake, MD; and Britney Wilson, BA, MBS) administered internet-based surveys to cosmetic procedure patients and physician members of ASDS.

The top procedures for which respondents used non-physicians were laser hair removal, microdermabrasion and chemical peels. The study found that the majority of procedures by non-physicians took place outside a traditional office setting, such as at a medical spa (“medspa”). Burns and discoloration were the most common events reported from treatments by non-physicians and were found to occur at a higher rate than in those who had procedures performed by physicians.

Although the number of adverse events reported overall was low, the study indicates that it is possible most complications may go unreported by patients, as evidenced by the higher number of complications ASDS members reported treating. Loose regulatory requirements may contribute to a failure to report all adverse events.

As a result of this study, member request and lax regulatory oversight of cosmetic medical procedures, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association (ASDSA) developed new model legislation aimed at making medspas safer, Medical Spa Safety Act.

“Our study found that board certification and/or level of licensure is a top factor for patients when choosing a provider for their cosmetic procedure,” said Dr. Rossi. “Patients believe when they go to a medical spa that physicians are on-site and supervising. We believe this legislative model will encourage states to provide medical oversight and inform patients on who is taking care of them.”

Dermatologists receive over 12 years of formal and hands-on medical education. ASDSA supports the best possible patient outcomes, which include minimally invasive cosmetic procedures. This study pointed out the most common complications – burns and misplacement of a filler product – occurred when performed by non-physicians, which may reflect deficiencies in autonomy knowledge, injection technique and the selection of appropriate patient cases, according to the study.

“We expect to see a growing number of patients seeking cosmetic procedures and want to ensure their safety in the physician office or medspa,” said Dr. Rossi.

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About the Study
The study was funded in part by an ASDS Cutting Edge Research Grant and the ASDS Future Leaders Network.

About the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association
With a membership of 6,400+ physicians, ASDSA is a 501(c) (6) association, dedicated to education and advocacy on behalf of dermatologic surgeons and their patients. For more information, visit asds.net/ASDSA.
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