By Robert T. Grant, MD, MSc, FACS | May 27, 2014
Having a good eye for discounts is a great way to save money. In many cases, less expensive generic products are comparable in quality to leading name-brand items. However, there is one area where cutting corners to save a buck is simply not smart.
In the healthcare realm, selecting discounted treatments can lead to big problems. Every day, we see advertisements promoting Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) injections at incredibly low prices, and we all know patients and colleagues who have purchased them through these discount sources. The injections that are being offered at steep discounts on deal-of-the-day websites like Groupon and Living Social are oftentimes diluted or generic, unregulated neurotoxins. As a result, these false Botox treatments can be dangerous and even disastrous. Therefore, it is our job as healthcare professionals to educate the public about the risks.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also circulating these warnings, cautioning patients and plastic surgeons alike to be wary of unwanted, unsolicited products from unknown suppliers offering significant discounts on cosmetic products such as Botox. It is the responsibility of healthcare professionals to know the origin and quality of medications and ensure patients understand the importance of receiving Botox injections from a certified plastic surgeon.
As of December 2013, the FDA has warned more than 500 doctors that they may have received unapproved versions of Botox. These products are unregulated and may be unsafe due to a variety of factors that include poor storage and contamination, which could mean serious complications for the patients who receive them.
With potentially hazardous products available on the market, how can we protect our patients from being treated with faux Botox injections? Below, I have outlined what I consider to be several important points to keep in mind.
If the offer seems too good to be true, it most likely is. In order to push prices well below the industry standard, something has to be tampered with, and it is often the quality of the product.
To get an idea of the industry standard, patients should compare the prices offered among various cosmetic surgeons. Any deal that deviates too far from what other respected surgeons are proposing should be a red flag.
Cosmetic surgeons who administer Botox injections should be board certified with an impeccable record in providing high-quality cosmetic care. After all, a surgeon with a flawless reputation would never use inferior or unsafe products.
Before heading to a practice with a special Botox promotion, do some research on the physician offering the discounted service. If he or she is not board certified with an established history of providing excellent cosmetic services, walk away!
The cleanliness and arrangement of a treatment location can be a warning sign, as an office that is poorly maintained may indicate poor product handling. A location that offers Botox and other non-invasive cosmetic treatments should look like a medical facility and have emergency procedures in place.
By recognizing the potential risks of discount Botox injections, we can help ensure our products are not only safe, but also produce results that are nothing short of amazing. After all, the health of our patients is priceless.