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More Magazine - Pretty revealing - Jan 2012

"These hugely popular, minimally invasive cosmetic procedures are relatively safe, but the same rules apply as for surgery: Be aware of whose hands you trust on your face. The first and most important rule when shopping is to make sure you'll be seen by a medical doctor", says Diane Wong.

Published January 2012.

In 2010, more than 7.5 million non-surgical cosmetic procedures were performed in the United States (no comparable Canadian stats are available). Topping the list were Botox, injectable fillers and laser hair removal, says a recent survey by the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

These hugely popular, minimally invasive cosmetic procedures are relatively safe, but the same rules apply as for surgery: Be aware of whose hands you trust on your face.

The first, and most important, rule when shopping for a minimally invasive procedure is to make sure you’ll be seen by a medical doctor—be it a plastic surgeon, a dermatologist or a general physician who runs a specialized clinic for cosmetic procedures, says Diane Wong, a cosmetic physician and founder of Glow Medi Spa in Toronto.

Just because a business calls itself a medispa and offers services such as Botox, there’s no guarantee a physician is on site. And there should be. In fact, a doctor should be conducting every initial consultation. “Botox is a prescription drug. If you’re not being evaluated by a doctor, you shouldn’t be there,” Wong says.

Many complications that occur with minimally invasive procedures can be linked to inexperience or incompetence, she says. They can include mild burns from peels or laser treatments, bruising or droopy eyelids or brows from Botox and asymmetry or disfigured features from fillers.

One of the most serious risks is blood vessel occlusion (a blockage that impairs the blood supply to surrounding tissues). “A trained doctor knows how to stay away from major blood vessels when using needles,” Wong says. “But if they don’t, the patient could end up with blood vessel occlusion or, worse, necrosis [death of the tissue]. You’ll be left with scars that are permanent.”

And remember, being a savvy shopper is imperative. Recently, online promotions have started popping up offering group deals on everything from laser hair removal to fillers. At the same time, many women are receiving email invitations to Botox parties.