Botox at the Mall: Is It Safe?

The mall is your one-stop shopping destination for nearly everything, and now cosmetic surgery procedures are being performed in a number of malls throughout the country.

From Botox injections and restalyne for wrinkles to laser skin treatments and hair reduction, some consumers are lining up and loving the convenience of getting a little upkeep done while shopping.

At Dallas' NorthPark Center mall, right next to cosmetic retailer Sephora, is Klinger Advanced Aesthetics, which provides a number of surgical procedures.

"This is a genius idea, to have this done in a mall," said shopper Melissa Restrepo. "This just adds a whole other element to beauty."

Cosmetic surgeons say these medi-spas are a way to meet skyrocketing customer demand. The number of people getting Botox injections in 2005 is up 388 percent since 2000, according to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

"Today, medicine has to not only be good and safe, it has to be convenient. And this does all three in a setting that happens to be a mall," said Dr. Rod J. Rohrich, chairman of the plastic surgery department at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and director of medical services at NorthPark.

Who's Giving the Shots?

Some doctors believe that this convenience could mean patients are compromising on safety.

"It matters a lot who's on the end of that needle," said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. "What you're starting to see at these malls are kind of aestheticians. They're basically the people who are one step up from squirting the perfume on your face at the department stores."

Rohrich said the staff at Klinger Aesthetics is highly trained, and the procedures are performed by advanced nurse practitioners.

"We want patients to know, feel, that they are in a nice medical office," Rohrich said. "It's a little different than the salon or the spa. When they walk through, they're going to be taking care of medical issues. They're changing from a client to a patient."

Caplan said many cosmetic surgery procedures are being marketed as no big deal, as easy as putting on some lipstick, which isn't the case.

"Something serious and medical is all of a sudden being shifted over to something anybody would get just on a visit to the mall," Caplan said.

But for many consumers pressed for time and looking for a quick fix, a Botox shot at the mall is too good to pass up.

"I can knock out my Botox and my Christmas shopping all in one day," said NorthPark shopper Alana Myers. "Can't get better than that!"

Safety First

Dr. Alan Matarasso, a New York plastic surgeon, joined "Good Morning America" to talk about the potential risks of having procedures done at a medi-spa and how to stay safe.

Matarasso said patients should get any surgical procedure done in a doctor's office. Medi-spas are not the same as a doctor's office, and nurses may be doing the procedures.

"The consumer needs to research and do a lot more legwork than you would in investigating a regular doctor," Matarasso said. "The burden really falls on the consumer to ask a lot of questions."

Matarasso suggests patients ask the following questions: Who is doing the procedure? Is there a doctor on site? Do you have resuscitation equipment? Is everything sterile?

Each state has different regulations for medi-spas. Consumers can check with their state health department to see what guidelines and restrictions are in place.

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