The boom in injectables has spurred a new crop of “beauty bars” across Manhattan—swanky, trendy salons offering fillers and Botox. The New York Times reported on this trend several months ago, and though beauty bars are legal, we can think of several reasons to be cautious about trying one out. Here are just a few.
Getting What You Need
One consideration to keep in mind about beauty bars is that because their range of services is typically limited to injectables, there will be no evaluation of what treatment you truly need. If you would be better served by microdermabrasion, for example, to smooth “smoker’s lines” above your lips or acne scars, you won’t hear that suggestion if the beauty bar doesn’t offer it. At the other end of the spectrum, if your skin has aged and descended to the point that a mid-facelift would work wonders for your appearance and ultimately save you money, you won’t hear about that option either.
Although the law does not require you to see a board certified plastic surgeon for fillers and Botox in New York, if you work with another medical professional, it pays to look closely into their credentials and experience. There are more than 40 distinct facial muscles, and knowing how to target injections properly can make the difference between pleasing results and disaster.
Botox complications are normally not too worrisome: pain, swelling and bruising at the injection site are most common, says the Mayo Clinic. But in the hands of an inexperienced injector it’s possible to end up with a droopy eyelid or crooked smile. Though not dangerous, these outcomes will last for months.
Fillers, on the other hand, pose both mild and serious risks. A facial plastic surgeon in New Jersey studied an FDA database of more than 5,000 reports of filler-related problems over a ten-year period. Although most problems were minor, including bumps, allergic reactions and infections, some were quite disturbing. He found 62 stroke or stroke-like events, and 47 cases of blindness. These can happen when a needle hits a blood vessel by mistake. Web MD, the site where this information was reported, also noted that tissue death is another risk associated with improperly handled fillers.
Back Up Plans
The atmosphere of these beauty bars, says the article in The Times, deliberately downplays the medical aspect of injectables, making them feel “accessible, acceptable and fun.” Lost in all the efforts to make treatments desirable is the fact that some locations do not have a medical doctor on site. In New York, Botox and fillers can be administered by a registered nurse or physician assistant, but they must be under the supervision of a doctor. You should know who and where that doctor is before signing up.
The Times article also recommends finding out whether hyaluronidase is on hand—an expensive enzyme that can dissolve Restylane or Juvederm in case of a problem. Also, be aware that certain fillers, notably Radiesse, are not reversible. In the event of a poor result with these, there’s no option but to wait for the filler to dissipate over several months.
Keeping in mind that beauty bars are practicing medicine, no matter how salon-like they may feel, it pays to inquire about their standards. How do they ensure the utmost in cleanliness? How do they dispose of needles? Do they have equipment such as a defibrillator on hand, and do they have staff trained in CPR? Have they ever experienced a medical emergency?
As far as we know, there are few rules governing the operation of these beauty bars. In contrast, when you work with a plastic surgeon with surgical facilities on site, you can require that the facilities be accredited by well-respected organizations such as the Joint Commission or AAAASF.
Your Best Interests
In reading The New York Times article about Botox and fillers from beauty bars, we were struck by the lengths these places go to inspire their clients to spend money—the more and more often, the better. Some offer “memberships;” clients are charged a monthly amount which the organization saves in an account to be used for treatment. One gifts clients a free treatment after a year.
Some beauty bars give clients a preview of what their results may be, encouraging those who have come in focused on one area of the face to add more injection sites. “It’s addicting,” admitted one New York Botox client who added cheek fillers to her list. Some places host injectables parties with post-treatment drinks at a cocktail bar.
Perhaps most effective of all these marketing moves is to get free advertising from clients. Photos and social media sharing are strongly encouraged, and facilitated with backdrops and slogans. (“Great art is meant to be shared. So are great results.”)
We understand the appeal of beauty bars—clients feel “catered to” (in the words of one who switched from using a doctor), pampered and celebrated. But we can’t help but be concerned that clients get caught up in the glitz and glamour and overspend at these places. Not to mention the fact that clients are not presented the full range of options, both non-invasive and surgical.
In contrast, when you choose a respected, board certified plastic surgeon to work with, you will have an aesthetic partner for life. He or she will be glad to help you in your younger years, presenting a comprehensive menu of injectables and surface treatments to hold aging processes at bay. And, when you’re ready, they can advise you about surgical options.
If you’d like to experience the difference a trusted advisor can make, give us a call at 212-570-6080 and schedule a consultation today.