From botulinum toxin Type A injections to laser skin treatments and hair reduction, consumers are lining up and loving the convenience of getting a little “upkeep” done while shopping at the mall.

“This is a genius idea, to have this done in a mall,” says Melissa Restrepo, who shops at Dallas’ NorthPark Center mall. “This just adds a whole other element to beauty.”

According to aesthetic surgeons, mall-based medical spas are a way to meet skyrocketing customer demand. The number of people who received botulinum toxin Type A injections in 2005 was up 388% from 2000, according to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

“Today, medicine has to not only be good and safe, it has to be convenient. And this does all three in a setting that happens to be a mall,” says Rod J. Rohrich, MD, chairman of the plastic surgery department at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center and director of medical services at NorthPark.

However, some physicians believe that this convenience could mean patients are compromising on safety.

“It matters a lot who’s on the end of that needle,” says Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “What you’re starting to see at these malls are kind of aestheticians. They’re basically the people who are one step up from squirting the perfume on your face at the department stores.”

Alan Matarasso, MD, a New York City plastic surgeon, says patients should have all surgical procedures done in a physician’s office. He stresses that medical spas are not the same as a physician’s office.

Matarasso suggests that patients ask the following questions: Who is doing the procedure? Is there a physician on site? Do you have resuscitation equipment? Is everything sterile?

[abcnews.go.com, November 25, 2006]