How to make the right choice when it comes to beauty treatments
By Young Cho, MD, PhD
Board-certified plastic surgeon
The aesthetic medical industry is evolving rapidly as our understanding of the aging process deepens and technology advances. New procedures, new products, new devices, and new beauty venues appear all the time. With the growing array of options, how does a curious consumer decide what professional is right for them?
As a board-certified plastic surgeon who works closely with a dermatologist, I am biased towards prioritizing safety and expertise. It is important to remember that aesthetic services are medical in nature and should be performed by experienced practitioners in a structured environment. The best procedure will be planned by someone who understands the anatomy, correctly diagnoses the problem, creates a plan that addresses the problem while understanding the potential limitations of the plan, and performs the procedure or re-directs you to someone who can perform the procedure while putting your well-being first.
In general, I think physicians are best equipped to diagnose and create a plan. The reason is that all physicians study anatomy in medical school. A subset of physicians, including dermatologists and plastic surgeons, spend many more years developing their understanding of the skin and soft tissue. A smaller subset have devoted their practice to aesthetic medicine. Because their understanding is deep, they can distinguish between different issues that require different solutions. They can also be more creative with their solutions. They understand and follow protocol in the right setting, but they will also have a better chance of knowing when to deviate. They are the pioneers of aesthetic medicine that perform groundbreaking work that evolves the entire industry, as well as routine work.
What about the medical spa, often called a medspa or medi-spa? These are places where non-surgical aesthetic procedures are performed, and they can be located within a dermatology office, a plastic surgery office, or any other physician’s office. Even in a medspa, you should have an aesthetic consultation. Once a plan is created, a well-trained nurse or aesthetician can perform procedures that they are trained to perform. It is important for you to feel comfortable in the medical spa environment, but remember that these are still medical procedures and they should be performed in a safe and professional fashion.
One of the best ways to find a good plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or medical spa is to get a referral. Ask friends, family, or your primary doctor if they have recommendations. Do some research, check out reviews, and look at before and after pictures. Review sites like RealSelf and social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook may give you an idea of the physician’s style. Ultimately, consider enlisting a partner or close friend, visit the office, and then make a decision.