The Device Wars

Abs, flanks, cellulite, bat wings, buttocks, muffin tops…You name it, and pretty much every laser or energy device company has a high-tech gadget that aims to erase, severely reduce, or tone it—sometimes in as little as one quick and painless treatment. And there seems to be a new device launched weekly. The device wars are likely just heating up as savvy marketers try to differentiate their babies from the competition in as many ways as possible.

Patients are increasingly asking for a device by name because of all the celebrity ambassadors and direct-to-consumer pitches. The real question is how will you talk them down if it’s a device you don’t own or particularly believe in? My advice? Be prepared and stick to your guns (or devices, as the case is). Be honest with patients about why a certain treatment may not best address their aesthetic concerns. Suggest alternatives only if they will produce better results that are more in-line with patient expectations. Pay attention at meetings to see what your trusted colleagues have to say about some of the latest and greatest before you take the pricey plunge. In other words: Make sure you have all the information before you pick sides in the device wars.


Beauty Bars

The first wave of beauty bars seemed to come and go swiftly, but now there is a new wave of storefront beauty bars cropping up (on almost every corner in some high-rent cities like Manhattan), and just like that, it’s déjà vu all over again. These bars offer a menu of aesthetic services, including injections, that are often administered by physician extenders.

I am not opposed to non-physician injectors, but I am opposed to unskilled injectors. I am also opposed to preying on unsuspecting patients with false promises.

Many of these bars peddle hard-to-resist deals, often via memberships, but the devil is in the details. A first treatment may be easy on your wallet, but the quoted price is based on units of toxin, not treated areas. Yes, 20 units for $160 is cheap enough that it feels like a steal, but it likely won’t do anything for a 40-year-old with pronounced crow’s feet. Instead, said customer will have to come back for a touch-up that is triple the price of the “deal.”

Then there are the risks associated with toxins and fillers injected in the wrong places and spaces. Beauty bar staff members may not be as adept at dealing with these mishaps as skilled physicians. Some complications are cosmetic (say a drooping eyelid from a neuromodulator injection gone wrong), but filler risks can include tissue necrosis or blindness. Beauty bars, like doctors’ offices, should have hyaluronidase on tap to reverse any inadvertent intravascular hyaluronic acid injection. Do they? I am not sure, as this enzyme isn’t cheap. And if they do, are they aware of the treatment protocol? I am not sure and can’t generalize, but I have my doubts.

I expect this wave of beauty bars will disappear as quickly as the first wave, but unless and until this happens, expect to see more patients who have been “botched” at these bars and now need us to do the repair. Use these opportunities as teachable moments to credential yourself and your staff.