It's only a bargain if the results are good

It's only a bargain if the results are good
Medical care of any kind is not a commodity.

In addition to two-for-one restaurant bargains, websites such as Groupon, Lifebooker and Living Social offer deep discounts in cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections, chemical peels, laser hair removal and microdermabrasion. The problem is that unlike a restaurant meal or a yoga class, these treatments are medical procedures. Botox injections, for example, can cause medical complications when performed incorrectly or if the substance injected is compromised.

In a recent press release, The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) advises consumers: "Cost is always a factor, but it should never be the deciding factor in cosmetic surgery. Safety and quality are always the key issues."

To make sure you are purchasing safe and effective cosmetic procedures, ASAPS suggests you cover these bases before undergoing treatment:

• If you're treated in a Medi-spa, consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon before you undergo injectable, deep peel or laser treatment. Anyone assisting the doctor or administering the treatment under the physician's supervision should be medically trained.

• The doctor supervising your treatment in the Medi-spa should be a board-certified plastic surgeon. Injectables (such as Botox and tissue fillers), skin treatments (such as laser, intense pulsed light, and radiofrequency) and deep peels should be performed under the supervision of board-certified plastic surgeons.

• Depending on the state you're treated in, injections and deep peels may be performed by a nurse, physician's assistant, nurse practitioner or even a medical assistant. Never allow a non-medical, unlicensed person to perform a medical procedure.

• Before undergoing treatment, consult with a plastic surgeon to find out if the technology or product is right for you. Ask to see before and after pictures.

• Make sure the injectable you will receive is FDA approved. Don't be afraid to ask to see the manufacturer's label for any injectable product.

• If your doctor uses a product for a purpose other than in the approved labeling (off-label), he should discuss this with you.

• Make sure you have been told how long the effects of your injection will last and the possible benefits, risks and side effects of the treatment.

• If you are promised unqualified, 100 percent success it is probably best not to proceed. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Surgical deep peels and injectables like soft fillers and Botox are not the same as facials or other superficial beauty regimens. These are medical procedures. Medical care of any kind is not a commodity. Be sure you base your decision on the credentials and experience of the practitioner, not on price.