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Home News Local 2007 April 22

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    Drivers wanted: Monday through Friday, finish by 7am!

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    Drivers wanted: Monday through Friday, finish by 7am!

'No pain, no gain'?

    Medi-spas mistakes prompt task force

    J.M. Lawrence

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With each pulse of a laser pressed above her lip, Patricia Nee felt more

    pain. Lying on a cot at the Hair Cafe in Holbrook, she begged the

    technician to stop the hair removal procedure.

    "No pain, no gain," the tech replied, according to Nee's lawsuit filed in

    March against salon owners Moet, Inc. A day of beauty became a trip

    to Massachusetts General Hospital's burn unit. Nee says she suffered

    second-degree burns and scars from her April 13, 2004, laser

    treatment.

    Lawyer Michael Forestra represents Angela McCoy of Boston, who says

    she suffered rows of circular scars on her face after laser treatment at

    A&A Skin Care Associates in Newton. "She walked in, paid $50, and

    they started zapping," he said. "Either the technician or the machine

    misfired."

McCoy is suing A&A Skin Care. The medi-spa's owner won't comment

    on the lawsuit.

    While thousands of happy customers leave Massachusetts medi-spas with smoother skin and fewer wrinkles, others are getting burned. The

    lucrative industry operates under fewer regulations than the

    neighborhood ice cream stand.

    "A lot of consumers see a laser hair center at the mall and think it

    must be safe or the government wouldn't let it be there. I have bad

    news for them. That isn't the case right now," said Nancy Achin

    Audesse, executive director of the state Board of Registration in

    Medicine.

    But the Botox party could soon be over.

    Audesse heads a Medical Spa Task Force, part of the Massachusetts

    Board of Registration in Medicine, now drawing up regulations for

    exactly who can wield lasers or inject wrinkle fillers and where they can

    do it. Under current rules, a doctor can farm out the work to staff and

    does not have to be in the building while procedures are done. Graphic images of beauty procedures gone wrong have distressed task

    force members. There's the 52-year-old Florida woman whose back is now striped with scars because a technician failed to realize the

    woman's tanned skin would draw more heat from the pigment-seeking laser.

    The owner of the Hair Cafe said she bought the business in 2005 and

    does not use lasers. The previous owner could not be located. Task force member Winifred Nee Tobin said she is concerned about

    skin-altering treatments conducted without a medical professional

    present. Under current state rules, a doctor can sign on as a medi-spa's medical director and never visit again.

    "There can be unscrupulous people and if they can provide their

    medical licensure and not be there, it's kind of like a no-show job," Nee Tobin said.

    At least one death has been linked to a medi-spa. In Raleigh, N.C., college student Shiri Berg, 22, covered her body with a numbing gel

    ordered by technicians as preparation for laser hair removal. The gel is

    only safe in small doses. Berg overdosed, lapsed into a coma and died

    on Dec. 28, 2004. The state suspended the spa's medical director's

    license for six months.

    "Most of the medical spas are very safe but a few bad apples ruin the

    whole pie. We need better regulations and better rules," Hannelore

    Leavey, executive director of the International Spa Association based

    in New Jersey, said.

    But the industry group contends Florida legislators went too far last

    year when they limited medi-spa ownership to only plastic surgeons

    and dermatologists. The new law also says those specialists can run

    just one satellite spa outside their main office. In Massachusetts, a doctor can act as medical director for an unlimited

    chain of medi-spas and doesn't have to evaluate a client before

    treatments begin.

    Leavey predicted the industry eventually will find its way out of the

    mall and back into the doctor's office. Doctors are becoming disenchanted with the high costs of fresh linens, massage therapists,

    granite waterfalls and other staples of the spa experience, she said.

    "They say this isn't making me any money. I'm better off doing this

    back in my office and getting $450 per injection," Leavey said.

    The Task Force plans to have regulations available for public comment

    in May before submitting a final report to the Legislature.

    KnowNOW: Medi-spa laws in several states

    Massachusetts: Doctors can delegate procedures to staff and do not have to be present. Licensed medical personnel must do injections.

New Hampshire: Doctors can delegate procedures to staff and do not

    have to be present.

    Rhode Island: Doctor must evaluate client before procedures but may

    delegate to a trained staff member.

    Connecticut: Doctor must see each patient before laser hair removal

    but can delegate procedures to a physician assistant, RN or LPN.

    Doctor can delegate Botox, wrinkle fillers and chemical peels to staff. Louisiana: Only doctors or dentists can use lasers. Doctors can

    delegate Botox, chemical peels and wrinkle fillers to staff. Florida: Only plastic surgeons and dermatologists may work as medical

    spa directors. They can delegate laser work to an electrologist, and can

    delegate other skin care procedures to a registered nurse or

    physician's assistant. Doctor's practice must be within 75 miles of a

    satellite spa.

    Source: The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery

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Published on Mon, Apr 23, 2007

    Tags: medi-spas, beauty, legal action

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