Getting a Recovery for Surgery at a Spa

Would you go to your shoemaker to get laser hair removal?  Or would you go to the auto garage to get liposuction? 

The answer is no.  However, many people are getting these medical procedures at so-called medical spas as reported in The New York Times.

Spas are no longer offering just facials.  Many are performing medical procedures which should be done properly by a dermatologist.  However, state law permits some of these procedures, such as laser hair removal.

These spa procedures have increased because they cost less to the consumer than at a doctor’s office.  However, a reason for lower cost is that spa personnel are not licensed medical professionals, and the spa does not carry the costs of a medical office.  Similarly, the consumer does not get the level of expertise and professionalism of a medical professional.   Despite the risks, there has been increased numbers of procedures at so-called medical spas.  These medical procedures are big money-makers for the spa industry.

Here are examples of how things can go wrong:

  • In Florida a 37 year old nurse died during a supposed, minimally invasive liposuction to remove fat from her abdomen and thighs.  During the treatment she suffered seizures and lost consciousness.  She was given Lidocaine and Propofol, a drug that induces sedation and is believed to have contributed to Michael Jackson’s death.  The case raises the question as to whether the facility, which was licensed only as an electrolysis facility, should have been performing a medical procedure involving anesthesia.
  • People getting laser hair removals have suffered second and third degree burns from inexperienced operators.

In the event of injury from a medical procedure at a spa, the injured person must still prove negligence by the spa.  The standard of proof of negligence may be lesser than the standard of proof of medical malpractice against a medical professional.

Furthermore, there is often an insurance problem or more specifically an uninsurance problem.  Spas do not have to carry insurance.  We have had cases where the spa has no insurance.  Sometimes a spa will have insurance, but its insurance will not cover the loss.  For example, it may carry general liability insurance for slips and falls, but it did not carry insurance for negligent cosmology procedures.  In that case, there will be no insurance for the claim.

Another interesting question is whether the spa will be deemed to have done a medical procedure or a cosmetology procedure?  Will the medical malpractice statute of limitations apply (2 years, 6 months) or will the regular negligence statue apply (3 years)? 

As with all cases, early investigation by an attorney is necessary.

If you have been injured from a medical procedure at a spa, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to

Mark E. Seitelman, 11/19/09,


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