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Risks in Chicago’s Med Spas: Lack of On-Site Physicians Raises Concerns

The medical spa industry, valued at $15 billion, has experienced significant growth since the onset of the pandemic. However, a recent study has shed light on a concerning trend: most med spas in Chicago operate without a doctor on-site, posing potential risks for patients.

Risks in Chicago's Med Spas: Lack of On-Site Physicians Raises Concerns
Source: NBC Chicago

Medical Nature of Med Spas

According to Alex Thiersch, CEO of the American Med Spa Association, while med spas offer cosmetic services such as laser hair removal and chemical peels, they are fundamentally medical facilities. Thiersch emphasizes that medical spas are akin to doctors’ offices, requiring physician affiliation for the procurement of drugs and equipment used in procedures.

Regulatory Framework and Loopholes

Illinois law stipulates a narrow list of individuals authorized to administer filler and Botox injections. However, Thiersch points out a loophole in the regulations, allowing physicians to delegate such tasks to trained individuals of their choosing. This regulatory ambiguity raises questions about the qualifications of those performing cosmetic procedures in med spas.

Study Reveals Concerning Practices

A study published in the Dermatologic Surgery Journal, authored by dermatologists, examined 127 med spas in the Chicago area. The findings revealed that a significant portion of cosmetic procedures in these facilities were conducted by aestheticians, who lack formal training in anatomy and injection techniques.

Supervision and Oversight

Alarmingly, the study also highlighted the absence of supervising physicians on-site in 81% of the surveyed med spas in Chicago. Brittany Croasdell, a nurse practitioner and clinical director, expresses concern over this lack of oversight, particularly regarding the administration of injectables by inadequately trained personnel.

Potential Complications

The absence of on-site physicians raises the risk of complications arising from cosmetic procedures. Thiersch emphasizes the importance of swift intervention by medical professionals in addressing issues such as laser burns, infections, or allergic reactions. Without immediate medical attention, complications resulting from cosmetic procedures can escalate, underscoring the critical need for on-site physician supervision.

Risks in Chicago's Med Spas: Lack of On-Site Physicians Raises Concerns
Source: Tell Tale TV

Call for Regulation and Patient Safety

As the popularity of med spas continues to soar, there is a pressing need for stricter regulations to safeguard patient welfare. Thiersch advocates for clearer guidelines and stricter enforcement to ensure that med spas adhere to medical standards and prioritize patient safety above all else. The findings of the study underscore the urgent need for heightened oversight and regulation within the med spa industry, particularly in Chicago. By addressing loopholes in existing regulations and implementing robust oversight mechanisms, policymakers can mitigate risks and uphold patient safety in this burgeoning sector.

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