There's a popular phrase circulating through social media when it comes to choosing a cosmetic injector - "Don't Groupon Your Face." Although humorous, this statement has an important message behind it. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people seek to turn back the clock on aging with cosmetic injectables like Botox® and dermal fillers. Unfortunately, many of them use price as their top search criteria. Drawn in by basement bargain pricing and BOGO deals offered on such popular sites as Groupon, many of these people never even consider the qualifications of the person injecting their faces. In turn, thousands experience inferior results, complications, and even disfigurement each year at the hands of inexperienced, unlicensed and unqualified injectors.
"I consider cosmetic injectables a medical treatment," says Katie McClellan, PA-C, a certified Physician Assistant, and owner of Infinite Youth Medical Spa. "If someone is going to administer a medical treatment, then they should have a medical license," she continues. "To properly inject neurotoxins and fillers, you need a solid working knowledge of facial nerves and anatomy. You are kidding yourself if you think that Botox and Filler are simply beauty treatments. If injected improperly, they can cause temporary nerve paralysis, tissue necrosis, even blindness in some cases. You need to know the credentials of your injector!"
Who can perform cosmetic injections varies by state. Some states require that only physicians can inject while others, like Minnesota, have very vague rules and regulations that allow pretty much anyone to inject as long as a physician purchases the product they use, and they are injecting under the medical supervision of a physician. This grey area has led to many unqualified providers jumping into the arena to secure a piece of the pie in the lucrative, cash-based, world of cosmetic injectables.
"I take the safety of my patients very seriously," says Katie. "Not only am I a certified Physician Assistant, but I also work with a supervising physician who is a board-certified plastic surgeon with hospital privileges," she continues. "I have years of experience in not only cosmetic injecting (Katie has been focusing on cosmetic injecting since 2011), but also in hospital operating rooms and working along-side plastic surgeons. I believe patients deserve this assurance of safety."
Physician Assistants, or PAs like Katie, are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient's principal healthcare provider. With thousands of hours of medical training, PAs are versatile and collaborative. PAs practice in every state and in every medical setting and specialty, improving healthcare access and quality.
PAs are educated at the master's degree level. There are more than 238 accredited PA programs in the country and admission is highly competitive, requiring a bachelor's degree and completion of courses in basic and behavioral sciences as prerequisites. PA programs are approximately 27 months, or three academic years. PA education and training are based on the medical model, and PAs are educated as medical generalists rather than in one specific specialty.
Most PA programs require at least 1,000 hours of healthcare experience and patient care experience. Incoming PA students bring with them an average of more than 3,000 hours of direct patient contact experience. Laws vary by state, but all PA's must complete an accredited education program and pass the national exam prior to practicing.
"When you see an offer for cosmetic injectables that seems too good to be true, it probably is," says Katie. "First off, if someone needs to advertise their skill at basement bargain pricing to get people in the door that should give you insight into the quality of results you can expect," she explains. "Secondly, you may run the risk of receiving a product that is fake, diluted down, or not even approved or recognized by our FDA - that's dangerous," she continues. "Lastly, like many things in life, you get what you pay for. Do you want to entrust your health and results to a provider that went to two years of beauty school and is now injecting Botox out of a hair salon? I think you deserve better than that."