By Alex R. Thiersch, JD, CEO of the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa)
One thing I love about the med spa industry is that med spa owners and providers continue to innovate. The ideas that come from AmSpa members on marketing, branding and business are always impressive. This is one reason why it is difficult to keep track of what’s legal in the medical aesthetic industry—many of the ideas we are asked about are brand new. They’ve never been tested before, and therefore it’s difficult, to determine where the legal constraints are.
Botox parties are examples of this. These events are hosted by a med spa or a provider—either at the med spa or another location—and at them, people get together to socialize, learn about treatments and try new treatments. Often, the med spa provides discounts on product to get new patients in the door. These are highly social events, often featuring alcohol, that mix pleasure with aesthetics, which makes the idea of getting injected with a needle a bit more palatable.
I’m often asked whether these events are legal, particularly when they are held outside of the med spa—at someone’s house or a salon, for example. What’s more, are they worth it?
The answer to both of these questions is yes—they are absolutely legal in most states (Nevada recently passed a law restricting the injection of Botox and fillers to a doctor’s office, essentially banning offsite Botox parties), and they are absolutely worth it. But like most things in this industry, these answers are contingent upon you adhering strictly to the law. No amount of money is worth losing your license, and yes, nurses have lost their licenses because of improperly hosted Botox parties. AmSpa members can check their medical aesthetic legal summaries to find laws pertaining to Botox parties in their particular state.
Primarily, you need to remember that when you provide any offsite medical treatment, all the same rules apply. New patients must be examined by a doctor, nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA) prior to being treated. Proper records must be kept. Consent forms must be signed. Before and after photos should be taken. Everything you are legally required to do at your med spa should be done at a Botox party.
Additionally, check with your insurance carrier before the party to ensure that you have coverage for offsite treatments, and double-check local ordinances regarding serving alcohol—you may need to obtain a permit for this.
A patient being treated by an RN without first seeing the doctor (or NP or PA) is the biggest legal risk at Botox parties, or any other social event involving med spa treatments. All patients must first be examined so that a plan can be set. This can only be performed by a doctor, or by an NP or PA operating under proper authority. Even if the patient consents to being treated by the RN without first seeing a doctor, the RN is not allowed to inject the patient without the exam.
At Botox parties, this can be difficult because new patients are socializing, alcohol is sometimes being consumed, and everyone is more relaxed. However, this is a step that must be followed, because an RN cannot practice medicine, so he or she cannot legally perform the initial assessment, establish the physician/patient relationship and set a treatment plan.
Obtaining patient consents—including privacy waivers, since treatments are usually performed out in the open—is also important. Providers also should be mindful of patients consuming alcohol. While obtaining consent from people who have been drinking is not strictly illegal, alcohol makes people less inhibited and often clouds judgment, which is not good when it comes to patient consent. All prospective patients should offer consent before they begin drinking, and you should try to keep the drinking to a minimum. This is not always easy, but trust me—if there’s an adverse outcome, you’ll wish that alcohol was not involved.
You should also be mindful of photos and social media. These events are ideal for marketing purposes—people are having fun, everyone is happy, and you remove many of the clinical aspects of aesthetic medicine. However, you need to be careful when photos or videos are posted—every patient is entitled to privacy, and if any of them fail to sign a privacy release and an authorization to use their photos, you risk breaching their privacy.
So since these events are broadly legal, we need to ask—are these events are worth it? The answer is emphatically yes, provided you strictly adhere to legal guidelines. Botox parties and social events are great ways to introduce new clients to your practice, pre-book treatments and bring in some cash.
Offer discounts on treatments and pre-bookings—both for injectables and laser packages—is standard operating procedure, provided they are purchased that night. Patients are encouraged to bring friends and colleagues to meet the providers and learn more about aesthetics. It is not uncommon for a practice to earn six figures in treatments and bookings in just one day. Even that kind of money isn’t worth losing your license, however, so be vigilant with your compliance efforts.
I urge you to move cautiously when planning and hosting one of these events. Do your homework and ensure you are completely compliant. Go easy on the alcohol. Make sure you’ve got proper insurance. If you have any questions whatsoever, consult with a qualified lawyer ahead of time so that all the proper documentation is in place, the required personnel are available, and all rules are observed.
For more information on running your med spa legally and profitably, attend one of AmSpa’s Medical Spa & Aesthetic Boot Camps, and you could become the next med spa success story.