Once upon a time, Botox was a private procedure available only to the wealthy and well-known.
Fast forward to 2023, this is not the story anymore. Not only are more influencers and celebrities openly discussing obtaining it these days, but the injection is also much more affordable.
Rather than going the conventional way and paying a minimum of $300 for each visit to a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, you may now find tempting discounts at the Target of Botox providers, if you will: med spas.
What are Med Spas?
As a board-certified dermatologist practicing at San Francisco, Sonia Badreshia, MD, explains, a medical spa is a specialty facility that provides minimally invasive aesthetic procedures, also known as “tweakments.”
Consider it your one-stop shop for some of the most widely used cosmetic procedures available, including as Botox (or botulinum toxin, if you want to get technical), microneedling, and laser hair removal.
However, with so many horrifying social media stories about botched face injections, you may be wondering if you really get what you pay for and if visiting a med spa for Botox is a worthwhile way to economize or if it’s the kind of inexperienced move you’ll regret.
It’s not the same as going to the doctor’s office.
Although med spas provide some of the same injectables as a dermatologist’s or plastic surgeon’s office, these two types of procedures differ significantly in several important ways.
First, according to David Shafer, MD, a double-certified plastic surgeon at the Shafer Clinic in New York City, med spas are usually run by mid-level practitioners like advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PAs), who employ skilled technicians (like estheticians or registered nurses) to perform cosmetic services.
Many states require a supervising physician to oversee the business, but they’re not always required to be on-site, Dr. Shafer says. These doctors also may or may not perform the treatments themselves, Marisa Garshick, MD, board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York City.
However, the most noticeable—and desirable—difference is the price. According to Dr. Shafer, insurance does not cover Botox injections for aesthetic purposes, and the cost of each treatment region varies from $300 to $600, depending on the location.
On the other side, med spas typically charge less—between $200 and $500 per area. Furthermore, a lot of them provide discounts or bundle offers for several treatments.
As Dr. Badreshia explains, lesser overhead—more particularly, the fact that paying estheticians rather than doctors to administer Botox is far less expensive—is the primary reason these locations can manage to give Botox at a lower cost.
Med spas may increase your chances of complications.
Getting Botox injections, no matter where you get them, is never without danger. Dr. Garshick states that these typically include bruises, drooping eyebrows or eyelids, as well as disliking the appearance in general and wishing you had left your poor little face alone.
However, if the person administering your Botox treatment isn’t adequately qualified, it could raise your risk of these consequences and put you at further risk.
States have different laws governing Med Spas; some only permit doctors, PAs, or nurses to perform Botox injections, for example, while others have laxer restrictions.
As a result, Dr. Garshick advises making sure you’re seeing a qualified medical professional with plenty of experience (more on that below).
In agreement, Dr. Badreshia notes that an unskilled injector may administer Botox in the incorrect location, resulting in asymmetrical or frozen facial features as well as nerve damage.
Studies indicate that while these effects typically fade with time, in certain circumstances they may be irreversible.
And if you’re wondering (as we were) how clean med spas are, Dr. Shafer says it truly depends on who owns and operates the business.
He clarifies that personnel in dermatology and plastic surgery practices are trained in sterilising and cleaning medical equipment, including needles. In summary, he states that the staff’s level of training determines how clean a med spa is.
How to vet your Botox injector
According to Dr. Badreshia, these are the most crucial credentials to find out about if you want to be sure you don’t end up a cautionary story, regardless of where you get Botox done:
A physician assistant (PA), advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), registered nurse (RN), doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), or medical doctor (MD) should be the degree next to your injector’s name.
The physicians you want to give the injections are plastic surgeons and dermatologists; PAs, APRNs, or RNs should have had specific training in Botox administration (more on that in a sec).
A state license: They should also hold a license from the nursing, physician assistant, or medical boards in their state (you can check this directly with these organizations). States have different standards for licenses, but this certification indicates that the holder has completed the necessary training and education requirements and is authorized to practice lawfully.
When a doctor is board certified, it indicates that they have completed the most advanced training and fulfilled certain requirements for proficiency in their particular specialty, such as plastic surgery or dermatology. In order to provide medical treatments under physician supervision, PAs and APRNs can also become board-certified.
Although having an additional certification is helpful, it’s crucial that these professionals have had specialized training in Botox, which leads us to the final point on the checklist.
Expert in the field: You should also look for a physician with specific instruction in administering injections of botulinum toxin. According to Dr. Shafer, the issue is that it’s challenging to identify which Botox credentials are authentic because there isn’t a single database or criteria.
He does point out that Allergan, the company that owns Botox Cosmetic, provides injectors with training. Providers can also sign up for courses on the neurotoxins that trainees will be giving, as well as practical practice injecting live models, from respectable organizations like the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine or Aesthetic Medical Educators Training.
“People should certainly ask the office about the Botox training of the injector,” Dr. Shafer says. Some providers may list this information on their website, but either way you should bring it up (along with the other credentials above) during your consultation—before you let them near your face.
According to Dr. Badreshia, a superior injector will also be communicative. Prior to the procedure, they should do a comprehensive consultation during which they should go over your medical history, skin type, expectations, and any worries you may have, such as inquiries about their expertise.
They should also go over the dangers associated with receiving Botox. They should also go over their process’s backup plan for managing any issues that might come up throughout the operation.
Dr. Shafer asserts that experience counts most, even if your injector meets all of the requirements we just outlined. You want someone who regularly treatments patients with Botox.
“To perfect your skills, years of practice and training are required,” he states. “I would trust several PAs and nurses with my face because they are skilled injectors who have been doing it for the past 20 years, five days a week. In the same way, I wouldn’t let many doctors near my face”
Follow Woman’s Week for more updates.