A number of states have recently narrowed the scope of practice for estheticians in a medical spa.
For instance, both Illinois and California now consider microneedling a medical procedure, regardless of needle depth.
“With medical spas, laser centers and aesthetic practices popping up on every corner, it is only natural that the industry would garner some focus from regulatory agencies,” Alex Thiersch, J.D., founder and director of the American Med Spa Association, tells Cosmetic Surgery Times.
As more and more businesses open, and as an increasing number of physicians enter the aesthetic space, “there are plenty of opportunities for bad outcomes, lawsuits and lobbying,” Thiersch says. And states are starting to take a proactive approach, “based upon the genuine public health concerns that arise from aesthetic medical centers being run by people who are not qualified to run them.".
Because the public has a strong interest in age-defying technology and procedures, “many states see this market as ripe for abuse,” Thiersch says.
Although estheticians play a big role in medical spas, according to Thiersch, “they fall a little bit into a ‘no-man’s land.’ Most medical spa treatments are medical in nature — even microneedling and dermaplaning are typically found to be medical treatments — even though many medical spa treatments are relatively benign and easy to perform.”
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Nonetheless, states like California, Illinois and New York are starting to “come down on estheticians for providing treatments they are not supposed to provide, sometimes with dire consequences like suspensions and hefty fines,” Thiersch says.
Estheticians must realize “that they are restricted from performing medical treatments because they have not received any medical training,” Thiersch says. “Therefore, they must ask themselves whether it is worth the risk of losing their license in order to provide treatments in a medical spa.”
As states begin to adapt to new aesthetic technology, enforce new rules and focus more narrowly on the field, “it is important, in my view, for the industry to take a proactive approach to compliance and safety,” Thiersch says. “One bad outcome can change the way business is done, and the industry needs to be cognizant of that. Still, it is a great industry to get into.”