It’s hard to escape the lure.
South Florida radio ads for Venus Mini Med Spa tout the beauty benefits of getting facial fillers at the mall.
A Fort Lauderdale dental spa invites women to a cocktail soiree to sip champagne, taste hors d’oeurves, sample Botox and try eyelash extensions.
And just last week, Miami Beach Plastic Surgery and Medspa offered discounted treatments at its Back to School Injectable Day and Tweet Up.
They are all cashing in on the desire to turn back the clock.
Across South Florida, medical spas are proliferating, offering nonsurgical — and sometimes even surgical — cosmetic procedures for women and men.
Once strictly the purview of plastic surgeons and dermatologists, medical professionals of nearly every ilk — from ophthalmologists to dentists to gynecologists, as well as physician assistants and nurse practitioners — are now jumping on the youth-enhancing bandwagon.
“It is a bit of a Wild West out there,” said Dr. Leo McCafferty, a Pittsburgh plastic surgeon and president of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. “It doesn’t mean that all med spas are bad, but it certainly behooves the consumer to do due diligence.”
Without question, cosmetic procedures are soaring, rising 197 percent since 1997, according to the ASAPS. Surgical procedures have increased 73 percent, while nonsurgical procedures, like Botox, facial fillers and laser hair removal, have surged by 356 percent.
In all, Americans spent more than $10 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2011, according to the organization’s tally.
Blame it on the baby boomers: As they are getting up in years, they are leading the charge toward cosmetic enhancements.
In fact, people age 35 to 50 had the most procedures last year, nearly four million, and 43 percent of the total. Those 51 to 64 had an additional 28 percent, the ASAPS said.
“It’s a large target market, and it’s a market that is sensitive to aging, that doesn’t like aging, and that wants to fight it,” said Dr. Stephan Baker, a Coral Gables-based plastic surgeon and a local spokesman for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “That creates, obviously, a demand, and you see that reflected in the economic world. When demand increases, supply increases.”
Couple that, Baker said, with the evolution of nonsurgical procedures, such as injectables, and the decline in reimbursements for insurance-based, or non-cosmetic medicine.
The result is an ever-growing onslaught of youth- and beauty-enhancing practitioners.
But buyer beware, warns Dr. Carlos Wolf, a facial plastic surgeon at Miami Plastic Surgery, who also practices in St. Helena, Calif., and writes the column Plastic Surgery 101 for The Miami Herald.
“Any Bozo can inject this stuff,” he said. “However, to do it well and do it safely requires an art and training.”
The ASAPS says that medical spas “should be supervised by a physician, who should be on-site, and who should be properly trained and board-certified within their scope of practice, because problems can happen,” said McCafferty, who trained at Jackson Memorial Hospital and who has a vacation home in Key Biscayne.
“Something as simple as an injectable, a patient can have an allergic reaction, and if a med spa isn’t equipped to handle that, a simple trip to a med spa can be disastrous,” he said.