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Entries in Laser Clinic (29)

Thursday
Dec032009

Cosmetic Surgeons enlist patients to fight the Botox Botax.

Cosmetic surgeons are asking for patient help to fight the Botox Botax. Here's what the ASDS (American Society for Dermatologic Surgery) is giving it's members to solicit the support of Botox consumers: Here's the form.
The U.S. Senate health care reform bill  (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) contains a proposed 5 percent tax on "elective cosmetic medical procedures."  While this may look like an attractive option to Senators looking for ways to pay for health care reform, we know that:
  • Cosmetic medical procedures taxes are an unreliable and risky revenue source, which has proved to be a failure at the state level;
  • A tax on cosmetic surgery discriminates against working women;
  • The definition of cosmetic procedures is arbitrary and almost impossible to administer; and
  • enforcement would necessitate review of patient medical records by tax collectors, a clear invasion of privacy.

Please enter your zip code below to be connected to an automatic email system which allows you to send a quick message to your Senator asking him/her to vote against this tax.

I've received an number of emails about this over the last 48 hours. Is anyone worried that this 'Botax' will hurt your medical spa, skin clinic or cosmetic practice?

Sunday
Nov222009

Medical Spa MD: How to operate effectively in turbulent times.

If you’re involved with or own a medical spa, this question is no doubt on your mind.

In this article, I will give you several tips and tools to evaluate your laser centers culture and operations, so you can successfully navigate any economic downturn… And live to sell another day when the inevitable upturn comes around.

What is the Passion and Purpose of Your Medical Spa?

You reap what you sew. When you engage proactively and passionately in your business you will undoubtedly be successful and see your practice expand. It helps to articulate your passion for your medical spa.

At Assara Laser, our passion is to “help clients look and feel great, not fake.”

Why the Recession Drastically Affects Your Laser Clinics Bottom Line

You’ve probably noticed that generating revenue is not as easy as it once was. There are myriad reasons for this; from the decline in disposable income, to unemployment hitting record highs and tanking real estate valuations. As if these facts were not bleak enough, credit markets are virtually frozen so business owners are finding it nearly impossible to obtain small business loans and lines of credit. Refinancing current loans has become difficult for small businesses.

In short, we're operating in the perfect storm.

Accepting Reality and Responsibility Today

The easy way out is to close up shop and blame the recession. This will not help you going forward, it will not pay your devoted employees their wages, and most of all, it will not help your clients “look and feel great, not fake.”

So, accept responsibility. 

The hardships of the recession create a fact-pattern, problem to be solved; not a reason for failure. To paraphrase Michael Jackson, start, first, with the man in the mirror. Think about the following questions. And pay attention - there will be homework at the end of this article!

Finding Your Medspas Winning Competitive Difference?

Let’s be honest. The quality of your laser clinc's treatments are probably not drastically better than that of your competitors. The proprietary equipment and IPL or laser systems (Thermage, Fraxel, Titan) that you use are, for the most part, available to the competitive skin clinic market at large.

You may believe (and tell clients) that your microdermabrasion treatments are better because you use a diamond-tipped wand or aluminum oxide crystals. You may think that your IPLs or laser hair removal treatments are better because you use cryo-cooling or because you use chilled air cooling, or because you use a diode laser or because you use alexandrite lasers . . .

BUT . . .

Step in to your clients' shoes. To them, the bells and whistles of your Thermage or Fraxel device don't matter. Your clients already expect expert advice and cutting edge cosmetic lasers, IPLs and skin tighening equipment, so merely meeting this fundamental requirement is not a winning competitive difference.

What does matter to your clients are presentation, client interaction, customer service, reliability and consistency. Consider this carefully.

What is each of your medspas clients worth? 

At Assara Laser, one of the most popular packages is our $449 per month Unlimited Laser Hair Removal Program. On average, a client that signs up for this program will remain a member of the Program for 7 months, depending on the results they wish to achieve. How much is a single unlimited client worth to us?  A client in the program for 7 months, making a monthly payment of $449 is worth $3,143. For many laser clinic owners, a single laser hair removal client is worth more than a home mortgage payment!

Do you treat every single potential laser treatment client that contacts your laser clinic as if they’re worth $3,000?

What is your time and effort worth?

Before my partners and I built Assara Laser, I was an attorney. I still practice corporate law as a labor of love, when a friend or business contact has an exciting deal. I normally discount my rate to about $400 per hour, as law isn’t my primary source of income. 

Assume an hour of your time is worth $400.  Assume further that, every time your customers complain, you are willing to give a discount, or a free treatment and that, collectively, free and discounted treatments account for a 20% loss in your revenue. To make up for this lost revenue, how much more work do you have to do? 

Well, let’s add 20% to your 10 hour day, which now makes it a 12 hour day. If your annual sales are say $1,000,000 per year, you’ve lost $200,000. This translates into 500 hours more of work you must do to bring your revenue back to status quo!

Is there a big difference between a day that starts at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 7:00 p.m. versus ending at 9:00 p.m.  You betcha there is!  Is there a big difference between a loss of $200,000 and a loss of zero. You betcha there is!  And these differences drastically affect your quality of life.

How Do You Avoid Mistakes?

Mistakes are costly. A happy client is worth more than $3,000, and will likely refer business, the best and cheapest form of marketing. A single angry client will result in you working 2 hours more per day for the following seven work days, and will possibly diminish your reputation by badmouthing your medspa. 

A lot of people think excellent customer service means free treatments. It doesn’t. Excellent customer service means delivering what you promise. You know the limitations and effectiveness of your treatments so promise only what you can deliver and do it consistently, with a smile on your face!

Your Homework

Write an email to one close friend or business partner (or to me, if you would like to engage in this project with me: wshuman@assaralaser.com), in which you answer the following questions.  Cut and paste the text below into your email, and fill in the blanks with no more than three sentences: 

I wanted to pick your brain for a moment. I’m working on a plan to really blast my medical spa practice off the ground, and I wanted you to use your intuition to judge the quality my sentences below.  What do you think? 

The best way to succeed in business while I make clients feel great is:

The recession has made it harder for my medical spa to operate because:

My medical spa’s winning competitive difference is:

Each of my laser center's potential clients is worth:

I will earn every cent paid to me from a client’s hard earned money by:

The biggest recurring (or systemic failure) affecting my customer service is:

Please let me know your thoughts.

Note: The above is a guest post from Will S. of Assara Laser Centers.  You can find Assara on the web at the following links: Assara Homepage and Assara Blog.

If you would like to write or guest post for Medical Spa MD please contact Medical Spa MD here.

Saturday
Nov212009

Botax: Taxes on Botox and plastic surgery?

The medical spa and plastic surgery community is in an uproar over some proposed legislation that could make a trip to the plastic surgeon or a Botox injection at the medical spa more expensive.

People are calling it the Botax. It's a 5 percent tax on elective procedures such as Botox, Juvederm, Restylane, laser hair removal, facelifts, breast augmentation and other nips and tucks that lawmakers are hoping will help fund the nearly $1 trillion health care plan.

The bill says the tax would not apply to surgeries to fix a deformity either from birth, accident, or disease. It would apply to procedures like face lifts, liposuction, cosmetic implants and teeth whitening.

But as Dr. Paula Hicks points out sometimes cosmetic surgeries have very medical purposes.

"Certainly breast reduction surgery is a very good surgery for a lot of women and a lot of them will get denied by the insurance company as cosmetic surgery," said Dr. Hicks of the Ave Medical Laser Spa and Laser Clinic.

Under the proposal, Dr. Hicks says an eyelid tuck, which can help with vision, would cost an extra $100 in taxes on top of the $2,000 price tag for the procedure.

She says that could be a big hit to her business since most of her clients are not wealthy.

"Most of these procedures are not done on people that are rich and have endless amounts of money, it's middle class working women that would be targeted with this tax and it's really not fair."

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons 86 percent of cosmetic surgery patients are women. Sixty percent of them have annual incomes between $30,000 and $90,000.

The tax, if approved, would raise $6 billion over 10 years.

Allergan, which sells Botox, took a civil rights angle: The tax “discriminates against women,” the company said in a statement. Some 86% of cosmetic surgery patients are working women ages 35-50, with an average annual income of $55,000 per year, according to Allergan.

“What’s next? Are we going to tax people who color their hair?” the CEO of Medicis, a drug company that sells fillers, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, which is fighting the provision, says “a large portion of those being taxed would be the baby-boomer generation. And as this age group continues to age, the more interest will be generated in cosmetic procedures.”

A spokesman for the 2,500-member group said they were surprised to see the provision in the Senate bill this week, because it had already surfaced and sank in July. The tax is not in the House bill.

The tax is on elective procedures, and would not apply to any procedure to correct birth defects or issues arising from disease, accidents or trauma. The CBO says it would raise about $5 billion over the next decade.

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Tuesday
Nov102009

Do it yourself Botox? ABC News wants to talk to you.

Have you tried do-it yourself plastic surgery or home Botox injections?

In tough economic times, many try to cut costs, including in their beauty regimen. Despite the risks, some people have decided to skip the doctor -- and obtain and self-administer cosmetic treatments.

If you have self-injected products like Botox, Restylane, Juvederm, silicone, and other substances, 20/20 would like to hear your story.

Please fill out the form below, including information about your experience, and a producer may be in contact with you.

You can tell ABC all about it here.

Tuesday
Nov102009

Do it yourself laser hair removal... Unhappy medical spas?

silkn

The're are a growing number of 'home laser hair removal' devices appearing on the market. This article on do it yourself laser hair removal supposes that medical spas and laser clinics are feeling the heat.

Want to get rid of some unsightly hair, but don’t want to spend the big bucks for electrolysis or a laser clinic? Now, you can buy your own laser and do it yourself.

And people are.

The growth of the at-home cosmetic-device market, which includes personal lasers, has some professionals buzzing. At an annual conference hosted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Barry DiBernardo, a New Jersey surgeon, delivered a talk in Seattle about the pros and cons of the DIY market on the ASPS’s “Hot Topics” panel.

“We have to make sure that the patients are getting good, safe treatments. If they are getting good, safe treatments, then whether they are doing it at home or not, I’m not as worried,” DiBernardo told Wired.com by phone. “What I’m worried about is that they are seeing things in the Skymall on the airplane and spending hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars on something that is not going to work or is unproven.”

New cosmetic medical devices including DIY lasers are expected to explode into a $1.3 billion market 2013, up from just $296 million in 2008, according to the analyst group Medical Insights. The growth in the market appears to be coming from light-based products that claim to either remove or grow hair on the human body. The Silk’n Hair was the first at-home laser device to be approved by the FDA, in 2006, although it didn’t come on the market until early 2008.

The laser hair removers damage the hair follicles that are in their growth phase, generally leading to some permanent reductions of body hair. DiBernardo questioned whether the lasers used in the home devices were powerful enough to get the kind of results that clinics achieve.

“In general, these devices are low-powered versions of the doctor versions. We’ve been doing hair removal since 1998, so we know that they work and how well they do,” he said. “I think these home devices have some effect, but they legally can’t have the power of what we fire at people.”

From nother nice post from Wired:

My own experience is that people looking to do it yourself home laser hair removal (or skin tightening or complexion light-based photo-therapies) are really looking to save money and are buying a device in the hope that it will work. Patients who are actually interested in laser hair removal or skin tightening are put off by these types of home remedies. I've never heard that a laser clinc or medical spa is suffering from this, but I may be wrong.

Does anyone running a medical spa or laser hair removal clinc feel differently? Is laser hair removal at a medspa moving to home laser hair remvoal that a do it yourself laser treatment?

Wednesday
Nov042009

Medical Assistant's can not inject Botox!

I've seen and head about medical estheticians, medical assistants and even front desk staff administering Botox injections.

It's not legal, as this story on the prosicution of a medical assistant clearly shows.

Betty Guerra’s monthslong nightmare is over.

The 45-year-old former medical assistant learned today from her attorney that the 10 felony counts against her on allegations of “unlawful practice of medicine” will be dismissed, she said.

“I always believed things would work out the right way,” she said tearfully. “I cannot be punished for something I didn’t do.”

Guerra’s July arrest sparked controversy over what medical assistants can and cannot do. Specifically, there was confusion over whether they are able to give shots.

Guerra was accused of unlawfully administering cosmetic injections, an act commonly performed by medical assistants throughout Nevada.

The state attorney general’s office did not specifically say charges against Guerra would be dropped but indicated it won’t be pursuing the case.

“The complaint against Betty Guerra submitted to the Attorney General’s Office by the Board of Medical Examiners has been contradicted by the subsequent actions by the Board,” Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said in a statement. “Therefore, it is fair for us to conclude that it would be difficult to prosecute this case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Guerra’s attorney, Jason Weiner, said this evening that the attorney general’s office had sent him a copy of an unfiled motion dismissing the case earlier in the day. He would not be able to provide the Review-Journal with a copy of that motion until Wednesday, he said.

After Guerra’s arrest, physicians became concerned about what duties their medical assistants could perform.

Former medical board director Louis Ling said that upon reading a 30-year-old law, he concluded that the assistants could not give shots. With flu season coming on, he then attempted to draft emergency regulations that would allow them to give flu shots, but not Botox or other cosmetic injections.

However, that effort was shot down when a judge recently ruled that the board, in considering the regulations, had violated the open meeting law.

The board later reversed its position, determining that state law allows medical assistants to administer everything from flu shots to Botox. Medical assistants could give shots as long as they are under the “direct supervision” of a physician. Most health officials and doctors take that to mean the physician is on premises.

Ling resigned on Friday.

Guerra, a mother of three who was a physician in her native Peru, said she has been under incredible stress since her arrest and lost her job because of the publicity surrounding her case.

“It was a nightmare. I could not even sleep or eat all this time, wondering what was going to happen.”

Still, she said she harbors no anger.

“Now, I start all over. But it’s just another experience in my life.”

Via Review Journal story.

Wednesday
Oct212009

Medical Spa Lesson: The least recommend way for handling your medical spa PR problems.

Note: The identities that were in this post have been changed but the events are all as described.

A Medical Spa chain is not happy with what someone else has posted about them in the community forums of this site.

The negative comments are directed at one of the management team. I became aware of this medical spas concerns a few days ago after I received a string of emails from the medspa chain's 'CS Manager'. (Im guessing that CS is short for customer service.)

I can certainly understand why this medical spa is unhappy. Evidently the individual named in the comments was previously part of a failed franchise called Skin Nuvo and was one of three Skin Suvo operating officers who was sued by the SEC for 'Swindling investors of $11 million'. However, charges against the individual in question were dropped.

Here's an excerpt on the Skin Nuvo suit from the San Francisco Chronicle article:

Three men, including a Concord resident, were sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday on charges that they swindled more than $11 million from investors in a skin-care business that later filed for bankruptcy.

..."Skin Nuvo was projecting a glamorous image with their stores in very flashy and high-end malls, but beneath the surface, the company was in deep financial trouble," said Michael Dicke, an SEC supervising attorney.

Skin Nuvo, based in Henderson, has since filed for bankruptcy. During the alleged fraud from 2002 to 2004, the company's Bay Area stores -- which sold skin care and hair removal products -- were located in shopping malls in San Francisco, San Jose, Richmond, Concord, Corte Madera and Walnut Creek.

The SEC suit seeks to bar the men against any future violations of securities laws, a civil monetary penalty and the recovery of any ill-gotten gains.

So here's some of the emails that I received, and my response, over the course of the next three or four days. They start with an email from S.H. the CS (Customer Service?) Manager.

First email: S.H. of Nu U

Subject: Slanderous blog agiainst N.V./___ Medspa
Message: I need to speak with someone ASAP re: several slanderous remarks that have been made on your forum against N.V., owner of _____ Medspa.
Please contact me at 702-xxx-xxxx to discuss.

Thank you,
S.H.
CS Manager

My same-day response to S.H.:

Hello S,
What can I do for you?

S.H. want's to talk immediately. He's entirely too irate to just communicate that a comment may have gone over the line and violated Medical Spa MD's own terms. No, S.H. want's to talk. Now. Here's the next two emails:

Is it possible to call you?  Too much to put in an email.

S.H.

Jeff – there is a blog on your website re: N.V., owner of _____ Medspa.  The blog is dated 3/4/09 and is authored by “_____ Isn’t For You”.

The blog states Mr. V. only hires attractive females and then tries to date them / makes sexual advances towards them.  It goes on from there.

This is slanderous and libelous and a complete and total lie!  I am formally requesting this particular blog entry be removed immediately.  If you are unwilling to remove said blog then I will forward onto my legal department for further handling.  Please reply at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

S.H
CS Manager
_____ Medspa

I got another email amost immediately. Evidently my inability to grasp just how urgent this issue is and my lack of action in removing an anonymous post is getting under S.H's' skin. He dicides to forgo any more niceities and threaten me with his 'legal department'. Ouch. Here's S.H's next email.

This is slanderous and libelous and a complete and total lie! I am formally requesting this particular blog entry be removed immediately. If you are unwilling to remove said blog then I will forward onto my legal department for further handling. Please reply at your earliest convenience.

Have to give it to S, he's a silver-tongued devil. I mean, having an entire 'legal department' set on my like wild dogs? Terrifying.

So now I'm dealing with the 'legal department'. Here's what they sent.

Our firm, Kamensky Rubinstein Hochman & Delott, LLP, represents ___ medical spas.

Our client has informed us of various outrageous and defamatory blog postings/comments made on your website http://www.medicalspamd.com/ that impugn the character of Mr. N.V. of ___, specifically postings from "___ Isn't For You!" dated 3/4/09 and 4/10/09 and "former skin medique employee" dated 3/25/09.

In the March 4, 2009 posting, "__ _ Isn't For You!" falsely states that Mr. V only hires attractive females and then tries to date them or makes sexual advances towards them. In addition, "__ _ Isn't For You!" falsely states that if such sexual advances are not accepted, the employee does not get paid. In addition, in "__ _ Isn't For You"'s April 10, 2009 posting it falsely accuses __ _ of "multiple violations of state and federal labor laws, multiple instances of unwanted sexual advances and harassment." Similarly, "former skin medique employee" falsely states that Mr. V is "crooked," a "con artist," and "shady" and further falsely states that "if N.V. is involved . . . It is a scam from the word go."

This is not the type of content expected from a thoughtful website regarding medspas. Accordingly, we request that you immediately remove the postings posted by "__ _ Isn't For You!" dated 3/4/09 and 4/10/09 and "former skin medique employee" dated 3/25/09. We also request that you provide us with the names and all information in your possession relating to "__ _ Isn't For You" and "former skin medique employee."

Now isn't that nice? Within something like 72 hours we've progressed from a simple email request to this Medical Spas' demand that I turn over information on individuals who've made negative comments about them. This medical spa went from trying to get a single comment removed, to making the front page of Medical Spa MD. (Medical spas usually have to pay for that privledge.)

Of course this may not be the kind of publicity that __ _, S.H, and N.V wanted. I can't think that this medspa would really want the fact that one of their corporate officers was once sued by the SEC. But with the nasty-grams that S and his legal department are sending me it made me wonder what all the hubbub's about.

__ _ Medspa: Lessons for S.

Let me take a moment here and discuss what I think S could have done that would have better fit his medical spas business needs.

First: Don't take it personally. Every medical spa is going to have unhappy patients and ex-employees. You can't shut them up. Don't try. Perhaps they're unhappy for a reason. Your best bet is to engage in civil conversation. If you're making decisions on behalf of your medical spa or laser clinic, you need to keep your emotions out of the way. You're going to have dissagreements and sometimes they'll get personal. Don't let it affect your 'actions'. Medical Spa MD doesn't have any interest in harming this medical spa and no Medspa MD author wrote those comments.

But I wasn't responding fast enought to S and he took that as a slight. It wasn't. I don't know S and my first response, 'how can I help you', was an invitation for him to lay out his case. He didn't take advantage of that. Instead he lost focus on what he was trying to accomplish.

Second: Focus on your goal. Sean's goal was simply to get me to remove a comment. It's not unreasonable. I've done it before. I've removed any number of comments that attacked individuals in a way that had nothing to do with their business and was just an attempt to hurt them personally. I don't like those attacks and when I find them, I often remove them and at times, block an IP address so they can't make more.

S lost sight of the goal which was to get a comment removed. Instead, he switched his goal to getting to me. If he'd not been so agressive he'd probably have gotten the offending comment edited or removed. Instead, S pulled a gun by threatening me with his 'legal department'.

Third: Never pull a gun unless you intend to use it. S went nuclear when he had his 'legal department' fire off a demand. If S was smarter, he would have done his homework and seen that Medical Spa MD has been threatened many times by medical spa francises and their lawyers and knows well how to handel cyber-slap lawsuits. Read this Medical Spa MD post on cyberslap lawsuits, legal rights and anonymous comments on the web.

S went 'legal team' way, way too fast. I wasn't being unreasonable. I didn't tell him to 'go to hell'. It just wasn't at the top of my list of things to do. Medial Spa MD can get twenty or thirty contacts a day. I could care less that S demands to talk to me on the phone right away. Get in line. A single anonymous comment doesn't rise to the need of emergency care. S would have done much better with a simple, "I know you're busy" and a written explianation of his need to get a medspa comment removed.

__ _ Medspas legal team doesn't have a leg to stand on demanding information about people who comment on Medical Spa MD either. Anyone has a perfectly legal right to post anonymously on the web. Comments on Medical Spa MD are most commonly anonymous for exactly that reason. Physicians don't want to be held liable for the advice they give to other doctors, and laser technicians working at some laser clinic franchise don't want to lose their job.

Last: Never pull a gun on the person holding the mic. If you don't know what that means... From the begnning, S is making demands and acting pretty agressive, but he's only got one weak pair of twos (his 'legal team') and he plays them right away. Now he's got nothing left. If he's emailing some ex-employee that kind of intimidation might work, but not in this case.

By threatening Medical Spa MD and myself directly he's chosen to make an adversarial relationship when he needed a helpful one. While I don't have any axe to grind against S or __ _ Medical Spas, I don't really appreciate this kind of interaction. Any new threatening communications S or his 'legal department' they'll be posted right here on Medical Spa MD's front page where our 50,000 monthly visitors can decide for themseleves. (I can't think that any named Medspa's physicians will welcome questions about it.)

So where does that leave Medical Spa MD and __ _ medical spas?

For my part I'll put a quick notice up on the Medical Spa comments and take a look at them sometime in the next few days. If there's something that violates our terms, I'll edit or delete it.

I can't think that S has solved his Medical Spas business needs though.

Wednesday
Oct072009

IPL & Lasers from China

I've certainly been getting a lot of IPL & cosmetic laser companies from China contacting me lately trying to get on the site.

I haven't seen one yet that claims FDA approval for their lasers. Does anyone with a laser clinic or medical spa outside the US have experience using lasers or IPLs from China? Are lasers or IPLs a workable solution for clinics in Europe or Asia?

Im guessing that a very large majority of the componants that are used by Palomar, Cutera, or Thermage are manufactured in China already.

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