Minimally Invasive and Med-Spa Face and Body Treatments On the Rise

In the search for the fountain of youth, more and more people are turning to physician-administered dermal fillers, chemical peels and other procedures, fueling the ever-expanding plastic surgery industry.


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After 17 years practicing radiation oncology, Anca Tchelebi, MD, left the field in 2005 and began practicing cosmetic medicine. “Radiation oncology was getting too depressing,” she says. “I was getting involved in many cases and suffered if I was not able to help. It was becoming difficult to detach and just remain a physician.” Today, her work at the Park Avenue Medical Spa in Armonk offers her a different experience: Patients generally leave her office feeling happy and satisfied.

Dr. Tchelebi is not alone. Increasingly, physicians are abandoning their original fields of training and establishing a foothold in the world of beauty. They’re administering aesthetic procedures that, though not medically necessary, require a doctor’s supervision. With more sophisticated and targeted aesthetic treatments available today, the field of cosmetic medicine, a gray area hovering between health and beauty, is a growing one.

With growth and rising demand, it’s not just plastic surgeons, facial surgeons, dermatologists, and ENTs who are in the appearance-changing game. Physicians from other fields are gravitating to the beauty biz.

Just a decade ago, that might have seemed unlikely. Today, however, demand is surging as more people chase beauty and near-perfection. Minimally invasive treatments like Botox, fillers, and chemical peels are fueling the growth of the plastic surgery industry for the third consecutive year, accounting for some 13 million procedures in 2012, according to The American Society of Plastic Surgeons. In 2012, Americans spent over $4 billion on non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

Many of these treatments are performed in doctors’ offices; others in something known as a “med” or “medi-spa”, which are proliferating around the country. They offer everything from facials and hair removal to pharmaceutical injections and other medical procedures. They can be found in physicians’ offices or other locations like shopping malls, storefronts, and beauty salons, with mandates on the level of licensed medical supervision varying by state, according to the International Medical Spa Association.

There are approximately 4,500 self-described US-based med or medi-spa centers in the International Medical Spa Association's database, says Allan Share, president of the Association. The overall growth of medi-spas has mirrored the evolution of cosmetic treatments: In 2008, just 800 existed. 



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