By Alex R. Thiersch, CEO of the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa)
The first line of this story from the local ABC affiliate in Houston says it all: “A licensed cosmetologist is the latest person arrested in a police crackdown on illegal medspa procedures.” This time, a local cosmetologist’s mugshot is accompanied by the now-all-too-familiar scene of a med spa employee being led away in handcuffs and charged with the unlawful practice of medicine.
This is, by my count, the fourth such arrest in the last month in the Houston area resulting from two separate undercover investigations. In late November, a med spa owner was led away in handcuffs after providing PRP services to an undercover officer without proper physician supervision. This followed closely on the heels of the well-publicized arrest of popular injector Michele Bogle, who was arrested for illegally injecting Botox, followed shortly thereafter by the arrest of Bogle’s medical director, Dr. Paula Springer. (Note: I had a great talk with Texas lawyers Michael Byrd and Brad Adatto about this arrest, which is available on our podcast. This is a MUST LISTEN for all Texas med spa professionals.)
The latest arrest appears to be correlated to the original two, which all emanate from Savvy Chic MedSpa in Spring, Texas. Savvy Chic MedSpa cosmetologist Melissa Galvan allegedly prescribed a weight loss pill to a patient. The patient ended up in the hospital after experiencing chest pains which led to the arrest. According to the news report, Houston PD believes that Bogle, Springer, and Galvan all worked together to “unlawfully practice medicine.” According to investigators, the prescription pad used by Galvan belonged to Dr. Springer. You can read the full story here (also posted in the AmSpa news section).
The fact that we have had two undercover stings and four arrests in the last month at Houston med spas is startling. While we have been saying for years that enforcement is coming, I never believed we would see this type of concerted and targeted effort to take down illegal med spas. Seeing med spa owners, injectors, and medical directors led away in handcuffs has got to be a sobering feeling for area med spas, regardless of whether they are compliant or not.
There is a lot to learn from this and I promise there will be more to come. I will put together some takeaways for Texas med spas once I gather my thoughts and learn a little more. In the meantime, please check out AmSpa’s legal summary for the latest on the law.