The Rise of Medspas

Published on January 5, 2013 by in laser hair removal, Medical Industry

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Since 2007 the number of medspas and hybrid medical practices has increased by almost a factor of five, soaring from 800 to 4,500 (from MarketWatch. What has caused this increase, especially since the economy has been less than bullish the past few years? Such a dramatic jump can likely be attributed to multiple factors.

  1. The “lipstick indicator” effect – This is a classic study originally done by a major cosmetics manufacturer that found people wanted to look their best in a down economy. Since unemployment leads to an increase in competition for scarce jobs, those seeking employment try to look their best in an attempt to gain any advantage possible.
  2. Increased healthcare cost – Many private physicians have felt the squeeze of increasing costs but decreasing reimbursements, leading to the need to diversify revenue streams. One potentially lucrative revenue stream is aesthetic medicine and the cash paying patients it brings. Lax regulations on aesthetic treatment providers and device companies eager to train doctors in the use of their equipment offer a relatively low bar for entry into a field offering procedures like laser hair removal and removal of abnormal skin pigmentations. The biggest barrier is the capital invest required to purchase a medical laser.
  3. Increased narcissism – The rise of social media and a renewed interest in Hollywood stars via Facebook and Twitter may be contributing to a general self-absorption. The pressure to look their best has driven increasing numbers to seek aesthetic medical treatments. This is driving up the demand and the market is simply responding to meet this increase

So is it a chicken and egg scenario? Is the market demanding more medspas or is the increase in medspas making treatment more accessible? You decide.

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Stress and Skin

Published on August 15, 2011 by in Dermatology, Neurology

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Many of us have long suspected that there is a connection between stress and our skin. I mean there has to be a reason why that pimple appears on your forehead the day of your big date, right? Well there is a growing body of evidence to linking your skin health to your state of mind. It seems that stress can have an effect on conditions such as rosacea, acne and psoriasis.

This topic was discussed by Dr. Richard G. Fried, MD of Yardley, PA at the American Academy of Dermatology’s summer meeting earlier this month. Dr. Fried, who has a somewhat unique combination of specialties being a board certified dermatologist as well as a clinical psychologist, said the following:

“It is important to consider the biological response that happens when a person experiences stress. Neuropeptides, the chemicals released by skin’s nerve endings, are the skin’s first line of defense from infection and trauma. When responding to protect the skin, neuropeptides can create inflammation and an uncomfortable skin sensation, such as numbness, itching, sensitivity or tingling. However, stressful situations can cause neuropeptides to be inappropriately released, which can lead to a flare of skin conditions.”

The real kicker is that these same neuropeptides can disrupt the chemical balance regulating our emotions and thus can actually cause more stress. It seems this is all just a vicious cycle.

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FDA Sunscreen Regulations

Published on July 1, 2011 by in Dermatology

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I am a huge advocate for proper sun protection so I am excited to see stricter labels for sunblock

Labeling on sunscreen bottles is about to get a whole lot less confusing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Tuesday stricter new rules for sunscreen manufacturers’ claims of sun protection, including new provisions that will allow labels to maintain for the first time that products can help reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.

The rules, which the FDA has been considering since 1978, will go into effect by next summer. They will require sunscreen manufacturers to test their products’ effectiveness against two types of the sun’s ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB. UVB rays are largely responsible for sunburn; both UVA and UVB rays cause skin wrinkling and cancer.

Read the full story here.

Most people don’t understand they should really be wearing a high spf sunblock every day. The average person has much more sun exposure than they realize. For example, if you commute an distance to work, you are getting sun exposure. Car manufacturers use window treatments that block UVB rays but not UVA rays. I had an aftermarket film added to my car windows to block both types. If your desk is next to a window at work, you are getting a lot of sun exposure there too. It adds up over time and the only way to protect yourself is sunblock everyday!

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I hope that anybody reading this post would not need additional reasons to avoid cocaine use, but on the off chance you dabble in the white powder, you should probably check out this story:

Cocaine contaminated with levamisole, a cheap and widely available drug used to deworm livestock, could result in a U.S. public health epidemic, experts warn.

In a report released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, doctors revealed that patients in Los Angeles and New York who smoked or snorted cocaine diluted or “cut” with the veterinary drug developed serious skin reactions.

Six patients developed patches of purple necrotic skin on their ears, nose and cheeks, as well as other parts of their body, the doctors reported. In some instances, the cocaine users suffered permanent scarring as a result of using the tainted drug.

Two similar cases were also reported in San Francisco along with others that reported additional side effects, including agranulocytosis — a potentially life-threatening immune-system disorder.

The problem, however, could reach epidemic proportions. The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that up to 70 percent of cocaine in the United States is contaminated with levamisole…

Read the rest at US News and World

If you can’t trust drug dealers these days, who can you trust?

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Tattoo Regret

Published on February 11, 2011 by in Dermatology, tattoo removal

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In honor of Valentine’s Day from PRweb:

In its annual survey of patients seeking tattoo removal on The Patient’s Guide to Tattoo Removal (http://www.tattooremoval.net), it was found that “Name of Ex-Partner/Spouse” was the number one motivation to seek tattoo removal treatment. Of the 1,061 respondents, 28% cited this as the primary motivation, followed by “Work-related conflict” (25%), “Change of Beliefs” (18%), “Unhappy/Don’t like it” (14%), “Replace with a new tattoo” (7%), Medical Reasons (4%), and Other (3%). Young adults (18-29 yr olds) were the largest demographic feeling a change of heart, with 30% of all respondents citing “Name of Ex-Partner/Spouse”, followed by Adults (30-40 yr olds) at 27%.

“The most common reason people come in for tattoo removal at my practice is to remove someone’s name,” says Patient’s Guide Chairman and laser expert Eric F. Bernstein, M.D. “Love is forever, except in real life under rare circumstances. When a relationship ends, people want the tattoo off. Other common reasons include feelings that it’s interfering with their job, or that it no longer represents who they are.”

In a similar study conducted by The Patient’s Guide in 2009, it was found that the majority of respondents didn’t appreciate the implications of tattoo ink being “permanent”, or which colors of ink would be more challenging to remove. “White and tan tattoo pigments are dangerous for laser specialists because they turn black when they get lasered,” said Dr. Bernstein. “Once it turns black it might not ever come out, but more commonly, it’s just more difficult and takes more treatments. Green is challenging to remove as well, but the Alexandrite laser is classically referred to in order to remove green pigment. The Ruby laser is good for green as well.”

So the moral of the story is, don’t get names tattooed on you unless they are your blood relation, blood relations aren’t going anywhere. Even if you get your kids name tattooed on you, don’t do it in a spot that can’t be easily covered. What this story doesn’t mention is the fact that laser tattoo removal is a long, expensive, and painful process. The best way to avoid this process is to choose you tattoos carefully to begin with.

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An Electro-Optic (EO) Q-switched Nd:YAG laser is an effective option for removing unwanted fine caliber hair, a new study reports. Furthermore, when used in the double-pulse mode, the laser creates significantly less discomfort for the patient.

For this study, which was conducted at Northwestern University in Chicago, researchers treated 11 patients with the EO Q-switched Nd:YAG laser. The treatments were given once a month for four months. One side of each patient’s treatment area received a standard single-pulse option, while the other side received the double-pulse option.

At 6 and 24 months, investigators counted the patients hairs in the treated areas. They found a 50 percent reduction in hair counts with the double-pulse option and a 46 percent reduction with the single-pulse option.

Although outcomes may have been similar for both modes, patient discomfort was not. Some 90 percent of the patients reported none or mild discomfort when the double-pulse option was used. That number dropped to 50 percent when the treatment was received in the single-pulse options.

“The EO Q-switched Nd:YAG laser is an effective option for the permanent treatment of unwanted fine hair and has a high-patient satisfaction rate,” the authors concluded. “There is less therapeutic discomfort in the [double-pulse] mode.”

Source: Bakus AD, Garden JM, Yaghmai D, Massa MC. Long-term fine caliber hair removal with an electro-optic Q-switched Nd:YAG Laser. Lasers Surg Med. 2010:42(8):706-711.

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