There seems to be a new and disturbing trend in aesthetic medicine. Non-medical providers, and in particular, estheticians, are injecting Botox® Cosmetic in a number of different facilities. In the past month, I have been contacted by three different medical providers in Nevada, Colorado and Texas. They are also injecting dermal fillers such as Restylane and JuveDerm. This is not legally supportable and the activity should stop immediately.
In each scenario, an esthetician was injecting Botox Cosmetic under the loose supervision of a physician (non-core physician, I might add). Apparently, in the respective cases, the physicians maintained that it was lawful for the estheticians to do this under the physician delegation regulations in each state. The rationale was that there was nothing that specifically precluded such practices.
There is nothing in the state regulations that tells estheticians (or physicians) that they cannot perform brain surgery, but we know that they cannot. Injecting Botox Cosmetic is the practice of medicine. There is no question about this and it is not an arguable point. It is not subject to interpretation or subjective beliefs. It is the practice of medicine for several reasons. First, Botox Cosmetic is a prescription drug. Secondly, it is administered via a 30 gauge syringe and it is diluted with saline. An esthetician cannot perform these functions. An esthetician cannot inject anything, including saline. Third, there is no insurance carrier that I am aware of that will provide coverage for an esthetician performing these services. This is clear indication that something is wrong. Fourth, the Board of Cosmetology in the respective states would not permit such conduct. Fifth, the Board of Medicine in the respective states would not permit such activity. There are patient safety, HIPAA and other concerns as well.
In the case of dermal fillers such as Restylane and JuveDerm, these are not prescriptive drugs. However, they are medical devices approved by the FDA and estheticians cannot legally inject them either.
The estheticians in question risk losing their license as well as civil and criminal fines. It is not worth it. The physicians supervising this activity would be subject to reprimand as well.
One of the additional disturbing aspects of this is that Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox Cosmetic, is aware of this and chose to do nothing.