‘Curbside Treatments’ Are on the Rise During COVID-19 and It’s a Very Bad Thing

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New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD closed her Park Avenue office on March 5, and followed suit with her Long Island location a couple of days later.

Even before the city mandated it, she realized that staying open posed a risk to her staff, to her patients and to herself. Nonetheless, she says, patients were—and still are—calling to come in for aesthetic treatments, to which she is strongly declining. 

“We have to do the right thing. We have to respect social-distancing and we have to stop the spread. We’re all in the same boat here,” she says. “No one is going to die if they don’t get Botox or fillers.”

Although she’s busy with patients via teledermatology, San Antonio dermatologist Vivian Bucay, MD’s physical office has also been closed for business for a couple of weeks; similarly, she’s heard musings of what she refers to as “curbside treatments,” where doctors are still providing neuromodulators, fillers and other aesthetic treatments to their patients—just not in their regular locations. 

“This is deplorable, as it puts everyone’s health at risk and diminishes what we, as physicians, do,” she says. “I can’t stress this enough: There are no cosmetic emergencies right now.”

“Those of us who are doing the right thing by temporarily shutting down our practices entirely, while providing for our staff, will be hurt by the careless and selfish actions of others once we reopen for business as usual.”

Dr. Peredo equates staying open for business in the current climate as being in the same realm as the frowned-upon injectable and filler purchases on Groupon—plus some. 

“We just don’t have a full picture of everything that’s going on at the moment with the pandemic. If you get a treatment, you don’t know if they’ve sanitized, you don’t know if who is there is sick, you don’t know if they’re wearing masks—and there’s no way anyone can measure if you’re you six feet apart.”

Palo Alto, CA facial plastic surgeon Jill L. Hessler, MD stresses that, for all these reasons and more, these “curbside treatments” are basically negating our current and collective civic duty. “Our goal now is to avoid COVID-19,” she says. “When you get an injection or filler, the practitioner needs to get close enough to you to be able to administer the injection. If the patient or practitioner sneezes or coughs and they are infected, this could expose others.”

How do you know if it’s the flu—or something worse—and why would you ever want to find out with everything that’s going on?

Marina Peredo, MD

What’s more, Dr. Peredo points out, some patients who get neuromodulators for the first time may experience side effects, some of which, as she has seen, can feel very similar to the flu. “How do you know if it’s the flu—or something worse—and why would you ever want to find out with everything that’s going on?” 

Beverly Hills facial plastic surgeon Andrew Frankel, MD agrees that not only is it risky business for a patient, but also incredibly irresponsible behavior by anyone who is providing such services—succinctly summing it up with: “We [physicians] are bound by the Hippocratic Oath, which states: ‘I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.’”

If the health hazards and ethical-standard breaking doesn’t scare you, consider the actual results: “You won’t know whether the proper protocols are being taken, but, chances are, any injector offering something like this isn’t very skilled,” says New York dermatologist Sapna Palep, MD. “It’s not worth it.” 

The bottom line, Dr. Peredo says: There is no safe way to get any kind of aesthetic treatment right now.

“Unless you have a six-foot needle, which I don’t think anyone does, there’s no way it’s safe. Just wait.”

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