Providers: Line between medicine, aesthetics blurring

02/03/2013 12:14 AM

08/08/2014 10:14 AM

For health care providers and businesses looking to weather a turbulent economy, the answer may be in a brow lift. Or tummy tuck. Or Botox injection.

As cosmetic surgeries and less invasive procedures grow in popularity and become more accessible, the lines between spa procedures and medicine have become blurred, providers say.

Many of those who work one field or the other say the integration is a natural one.

‘Next level’

Healing Waters Spa & Cosmetic Clinic, 2000 N. Rock Road, recently hired a plastic surgeon for cosmetic and reconstructive procedures after a nationwide search.

“In the interview process you get all types. It was sort of like in a dating relationship. You just know when something is right,” majority owner, founder and president Amanda Gorecki said of hiring Kelly Killeen, a plastic surgeon from California.

“The mission of the spa and the underlying sense of empowering women to feel better about themselves through transforming their appearance is really what drew me here,” Killeen said.

Healing Waters has been in Wichita since 2002. For Gorecki, the addition of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery seemed a logical progression. Her other location in North Carolina brought on a plastic surgeon in 2012.

“Trying to improve our focus is what we do every day, and we thought a surgeon would elevate us and take us to the next level,” Gorecki said.

“Spa services and medical services and aesthetics are all complementary,” Killeen said. “All of these things go hand in hand. I can’t operate on someone’s face when their canvas is not optimally taken care of, so my aestheticians are my right hand man for taking care of facial plastic surgery patients.”

“All of these things go together so nicely. It’s just lovely for patients to go to one place and have everything done and to have a beautiful, relaxing environment that feeds their recovery.”

Gorecki, whose husband is a neurosurgeon in Georgia, said there are many reasons why more providers are offering aesthetic and cosmetic procedures.

“The providers, with the health care cutbacks coming downhill, are saying ‘We’ve got to do everything now,’ and they’re trying to get into it because it’s a cash-paying business,” Gorecki said.

“In some cases, my husband can make less clipping an aneurysm than we can putting Botox in someone, depending on who the insurance is. He can spend 12 hours in the operating room on a very complicated case, and the patient’s going to be in intensive care for three months and could die, which is a huge liability, or you could pop Botox into someone’s forehead and they leave in 20 minutes and they leave happy.

“In order to be in health care nowadays, you have to love it. You can’t do it for the money.”

Blending fields

Jennifer Burgoyne-Dechant, an ophthalmologist for Via Christi Clinic, does cataract surgeries and also provides Botox treatments and dermal fillers.

“My practice was built on the foundation of traditional medical and surgical work, and the cosmetic part grew out of that,” she said.

Burgoyne-Dechant said the training and licensure of the person performing the procedure is a really important aspect for patients to consider.

“If you’re going to dentist and they’re offering you a boob job, you’re probably not in the right place,” she said. “But if he’s offering cosmetic veneers and a mouth makeover, you probably are.”

Some physicians have started to offer aesthetic services to help the financial viability of their practice, she said.

“It can help the overall practice mix and the overall financial stability of the practice. Certainly in the climate of declining reimbursements, it can help offset the costs for regular stuff. That’s certainly true for Medicare. The decrease in reimbursement for physicians has made it difficult for physicians to absorb the cuts.”

Burgoyne-Dechant says she thinks the stigma of having cosmetic procedures is not what it used to be. And today’s patients know what they want and what’s available, she said.

“For example, I may have a patient in for cataract surgery, which is medically necessary, and they can see better afterward and the next question is ‘Can you take excess skin off my eyelid? I can see my face again and I don’t like it.’ Then there’s the next step where the patient sees brochures for Botox.”

Kim Wilson, a registered nurse for plastic and reconstructive surgeon Stacy Peterson’s practice, 818 Emporia, Suite 305, helps patients with skin care and makeup, as well as more aggressive skin treatments.

Their office also has “cosmeceuticals,” a combination of pharmaceuticals and cosmetic products.

She said the expansion of services and products came as patients asked for more. They found some patients weren’t ready for a facelift or didn’t have the money for one.

“We wanted to give our patients more services,” Wilson said. “People are going to go somewhere for these services, and we want to be able to take care of the patients in our practice, we want to be able to take care of the whole patient.”

‘Recession-proof’

Outside Dopps Chiropractic, 555 N. McLean Blvd., large blue “Botox” banners advertise the service.

Mark Dopps, who owns the chiropractic business and the True Skin Spa inside, says he thinks that moving into the aesthetics arena seems to be recession-proof. With aesthetics, the office doesn’t have to deal with insurance and customers pay for procedures themselves.

“Keeping yourself looking good is always in fashion it seems,” Dopps said.

Dopps opened the spa about three years ago and runs it as a separate business.

“There seems to be a demand for that kind of service.  ... People were doing lot massages, facials, microdermabrasion, and then we branched into Botox and fillers and lasers and it was just kind of a natural progression,” he said.

But he doesn’t have plans to expand into plastic surgery.

“There are a lot of people out there that provide those services,” Dopps said, but he noted that “you can’t provide everything.”

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