Canadian Health & Lifestyle Magazine, Spring 2014

"What are the most important questions to ask before undergoing a cosmetic procedure?" by Dr. Diane Wong, MD.

It’s important that you do your own due diligence and not rely on word of mouth. Rules and regulations of cosmetic procedures, as set out by Health Canada and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (based upon the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991), can be grey and are often being bent or misinterpreted, even by physicians. The name “medi spa” is being used loosely and does not mean that the clinic is physician-owned or supervised.

To be safe, when you make an appointment at a new clinic, confirm that a medical doctor is on the premises and is available for consultation. Products such as Botox, Dysport and Xeomin are prescriptions and, for that very reason, a physician (not a nurse) needs to meet with you prior to having injections.

When it comes to other cosmetic procedures, I also recommend you ask to meet with the physician. Dermal fillers such as Juvederm, Restylane, Perlane and Radiesse do not require prescriptions, but like lasers and light-based technologies, they are considered medical devices and, as such, can have serious risks and cause permanent damage. It’s true that physicians are allowed to delegate injections and laser treatments to other qualified persons, but sometimes these rules are bent or misinterpreted.

Here’s the bottom line: Both the doctor and the injector must be fully qualified to assess the anatomy, perform the treatment and deal with any potential complications. So, this isn’t something that should be done via Skype or by an elusive “medical director” whose name is used but who is not available or qualified.

I would encourage you to check the licensing and relevant experience of both your physician and nurse injector (if applicable). You can do this through your province’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The reality is, the popularity and availability of cosmetic treatments are growing rapidly. That means the message to consumers should be stronger than ever: Buyer beware.

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