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The joys of being pampered at a day spa used to include massages, pedicures and facials. In today’s world, spas are now transforming to become quasi medical facilities which both men and women are receiving elective, non-surgical medical procedures. Since 1997, non-surgical procedures have increased a whopping 749%, and it is a multi-billion dollar industry. Moreover, personal injury resulting from medical spa visits has increased 41% between 2005 and 2006.

One such case is Kimberley Lim. She was in a mall and saw a spa and decided to get some unwanted facial hair removed with a laser. She observed everything was neat and clean. Furthermore, everyone was in white coats and she thought the personnel were medical professionals. Unfortunately, one hour later she felt like her face was “on fire” due to the extreme burning of the facial skin from an improperly used laser gun. Even one year later, she has nerve damage, not to mention scars on her face. She had to hire a professional personal injury attorney to help her solve legal problems.

Lim is one of many Californians suing the facility who did her treatment for obvious improper use of a laser gun and lack of follow-up medical treatment when an injury had occurred. It took them over 10 minutes to treat the severe second and third degree burns. But was this facility legal? Under current California state law, a doctor must own a medical spa but does not need to be on site. The laws are ambiguous and vague and that is part of the growing problem here in California.

The state law in California allows a registered nurse or physician’s assistant to give Botox injections, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion and other non-surgical treatments to unknowing patients. However, these are considered medical treatments and many believe should be at least supervised by a physician.

Senator Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont, introduced bill 1423 that would require constant supervision by a physician necessary for any type of medical spa treatment. Naturally it has stalled in the California legislature due to opposition from medical spa personnel. Even though there is no statistical proof that a doctor standing behind the nurse will improve safety, it might be helpful in case something goes awry.

It will probably take some time before a compromise has resolved this issue, so how can you keep yourself safe if you choose to receive treatments from a spa? Ask if a licensed physician owns the facility. How often he or she visits and observes the quality of treatments.

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