In January, 2015, Moffly Media printed an article titled New You focusing on cosmetic and laser treatments in medical spas that was published in all of its magazines in Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, Fairfield and Westport. Below is Dr. Omar Ibrahimi’s Letter to the Editor in response to this article as published on Moffly Media’s website.
I read with interest your article, New You published in the January issues of Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, Westport and Fairfield Living magazines. I’d like to point out a few important counterpoints the article failed to make but are critical to educating your readership and in the interest of balanced journalism. To provide background, I am a board certified dermatologist and fellowship trained in skin cancer surgery, laser and cosmetic procedures. I had the good fortune of being a resident and then serving as faculty at Harvard Medical Schools Wellman Center of Photomedicine where the procedures mentioned in your story such as Fraxel, Ultherapy and Coolsculpting were invented.
It is important to note that these cosmetic treatments are indeed medical procedures with real, significant and permanent risks. The article incorrectly states that one can expect the doctor to be on premises. Connecticut state law does not require a physician to be on premises of a Medical Spa. In contrast, in my office, I personally evaluate every single person that walks through the door as a patient.
Secondly, many of these devices use powerful sources of energy that can scar and disfigure the skin permanently. Laser for example, is based on Einstein’s theory of stimulated emission, built by a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and the use of lasers on the skin was pioneered by Harvard dermatologists. There is a tremendous amount of basic physics, and medicine which must be mastered to safely and effectively treat a variety of skin conditions (medical or cosmetic). A study from last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology found that about 75% of lawsuits dealing with complications from laser procedures were performed by a non-physician operator, particularly in a medical spa setting (Reference: Jalian HR, Jalian CA, Avram MM. Increased risk of litigation associated with laser surgery by nonphysician operators. JAMA Dermatol. 2014 Apr;150(4):407-11.). The research was picked up and reported by the New York Times, and USA Today. It is important that [your] readership be aware of this risk, and the article completely overlooks this fact.
The readership should also know these same procedures are available in physician’s offices where the doctor him/herself will perform the procedure or directly be present on site when the procedure is performed. Anyone considering a laser or cosmetic procedure should meet with a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon, have a full discussion of the risks, benefits and expected outcomes of a procedure, understand who is performing the procedure and what their qualifications are.