The field of facial fillers, laser treatments and minimally invasive surgical techniques for improving your looks has exploded in the past decade; so many options, so many choices. For Carole Soffer, it was all too much.
"I had gone to a couple of appointments prior and had come out sort of confused, because it felt like the dermatologists or the plastic surgeons wanted to do the procedures they did," says Carole.
Carole decided to consult with NipTuck Coach Michele Garber.
After meeting with her and talking over the options, Carole met with one of several doctors recommended by Michele and decided on the facial filler Sculptra, one she didn't know about.
"I'm not a medical doctor," explains Michele, "So really, my advice is about education and safety."
After more than 25 years in the beauty industry, Michele launched her independent coaching business, recommending different doctors she thinks would be a good fit for her clients.
"It's like a little bit of medical matchmaking," she says.
She says she does not have any financial relationship with the doctors to whom she refers clients.
"That's what sets me apart from other cosmetic coaches," explains Michelle. "I have no financial relationship with the doctors, the manufacturers or anyone."
"I do feel what Michele does is provide a filter for the pubic coming in, because otherwise it's just wide open," says plastic surgeon James Newman, MD, FACS.
Dr. Newman just published research entitled "Lasers, Fillers and Neurotoxins: Avoiding Complications in the Cosmetic Facial Practice" citing what can go wrong. Just because it's not surgery, doesn't mean it's not risky with potentially permanent consequences.
"I probably reverse five fillers under the eye for every one filler that's okay," he says. Pointing to a photo of a disfigured nose Dr. Newman explains, "This is a situation where someone got overzealous, didn't maybe know what they were doing and overfilled the nose, and now we've got a problem."
Both Dr. Newman and Michele say to watch out when it comes to those on line deals.
"There's a reason those folks are doing the Groupon, because they are trying to establish a practice," explains Dr. Newman.
"There's a lot of smoke and mirrors going on online, this is something I'm really passionate about," says Michele. "Doctors are stealing before and after photos from other doctors. I know this as a fact."
So does Dr. Newman.
"I've even found some of my photos stolen and used on other types of promotional sites," he says.
Bottom line -- patients need to do their research. Sites like the one by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons offer detailed information about dozens of surgeries and procedures. Next comes researching the doctors being considered.
"What are the qualifications of the physician they're going to see, how many types of procedures have they performed, of course board certification, and also talk to previous patients of that practice," recommends Dr. Newman.
Carole decided to turn to Michele to do much of that background work for her. She believes the $400 she paid Michele for the consultation saved her money in the long run. Her "before" pictures show the difference.
"I just can't tell you how pleased I am that there's someone neutral out there who can guide you into the different treatment options," says Carole.
Michele Garber has written an e-book called "Safety First: 10 Golden Rules for Safe Cosmetic Surgery." To download it for free, click here.
James Newman, MD, FACS
Premier Plastic Surgery