findings home/archives       contact us       other AHC publications   

October 2008 Issue

RSS feed

'Quick Fix' Medical Procedures Can Pose Dangers, UC Docs Warn

By Amanda Harper
Published October 2008

The list of “latest and greatest” cosmetic procedures aimed at improving our personal appearance grows daily: SmartLipo. Laser bra lifts. LipoDissolve. Power-assisted liposuction. Short-scar facelifts.

But in the quest to find bodily perfection, some people fall prey to fast-fix procedures that set high expectations for an even higher price tag.

UC cosmetic surgeons caution people to think twice before having an elective cosmetic procedure without getting the facts about safety and outcomes first.

“Many of these newer procedures advertised for eliminating unwanted fat or eliminating cellulite are not scientifically proven to work or have lasting effects,” says John Kitzmiller, MD, chief of plastic, reconstructive and hand surgery at UC.

“Patients should focus on getting the best treatment available rather than pursuing expensive quick fixes that leave them frustrated with results and out of money.

“People need to have a realistic understanding of what to expect from these new treatments. If the results sound too good to be true, they probably are,” he adds.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), Americans spent more than $13 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2007.

More than half that total was for nonsurgical procedures. This growth has resulted in a large number of “medi-spas” popping up across the country offering an assortment of procedures including deep peel facials, hair removal, pharmaceutical injections (Botox, skin fillers) and othermedical procedures designed to eradicate wrinkles, pigmentation problems and stubborn fat deposits.

“No national standards exist to quantify or regulate what constitutes such a facility,” says Kitzmiller.

“Without oversight organizations, patients do not get the information they need to make an informed, safe choice about these facilities.”

In the state of Ohio, he says aestheticians are qualified to do facials on the top layer of the skin. Nurses can perform hair removal with physician supervision. Other cosmetic procedures should be performed by a physician in a safe, well-regulated medical environment.

Kitzmiller recommends considering the following factors, detailed by the ASAPS, before choosing a cosmetic surgery procedure:

Check the facility’s accreditation—it is a measure of quality and safety. Cosmetic surgery should be performed in a hospital, surgical center or officebased outpatient medical facility. Although problems are rare with noninvasive cosmetic procedures, these facilities have the medical personnel available to address problems with treatment if they occur.

• Seek out board-certified physicians. Board-certification is the best indicator of a physician’s medical or surgical training. If treatment occurs in a facility outside of a professionalmedical setting, ask for the name and credentials of the physician providing oversight and when they are available for consultations before having any injectable, deep peel or laser treatment.

• Understand exactly what will happen during your treatment and what to expect afterward. Consulting with your doctor prior to surgery is an essential opportunity to ask questions about both the benefits and risks of any given procedure. This should also include a thorough review of yourmedical history to heed off any potential complications or unnecessary risks.

For more information on medispa safety, visit

For appointments with a UC plastic and cosmetic surgeon, call (513) 475-8881.

UC Health Line features information and tips for consumers. Read new Health Lines every Thursday or access story archives at

 back to list | back to top