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The beauty of Botox Featured

7:58am EDT June 28, 2002
By the time the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved Botox for treatment of facial lines and wrinkles in April, Dr. Dominic Brandy, medical director of the Skin Center, had been using the drug for that purpose for about seven years. His experience has added value now that the drug has FDA approval as a cosmetic treatment.

Botox injections have been used since the 1970s to treat uncontrolled blinking and crossed eyes. While the FDA approved the drug for cosmetic purposes in April, cosmetic surgeons have been employing the treatment for that use for several years.

Physicians are permitted to use a drug for other than FDA-approved uses, called off-label use, but cannot advertise or otherwise publicize that they are using it for other than its approved use. With FDA approval in place, Brandy, who says he's administered more than 1,500 Botox treatments since 1995, now can openly market the treatment at his Skin Centers in Shadyside, Wexford and Green Tree.

The approval for cosmetic use offers several opportunities for practices like the Skin Center, says Brandy, a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons. First, it provides an additional revenue stream. Second, since the wrinkle-smoothing effects of Botox dissipate in a few months, patients are likely to return for additional treatments. And because about 90 percent of patients get the results they expect, they're likely to suggest the treatment to others.

"Your patient base can build exponentially" through repeat patient visits and referrals, says Brandy.

He says that while the number of patients undergoing cosmetic surgery has remained level in his practice, the number seeking treatment through the use of less invasive means has grown dramatically.

Busy patients want to avoid the downtime that can result from cosmetic surgery and are opting for treatments that don't require long recovery periods. Minimally invasive treatments like Botox and collagen injections are "lunchtime" procedures that can be performed in a brief office visit.

They can also act as a gateway for patients who may be contemplating more complex procedures. As patients gain familiarity and comfort with the staff and physician at a practice, Brandy says, they are more likely to return for cosmetic surgery or other treatments. How to reach: The Skin Center, www.theskincentermd.com