Cosmetic practice offers makeover for cash-poor IRs

July 1, 2007

Cosmetic medicine is bringing a fresh face to interventional radiology with new minimally invasive applications and opportunities to profit from this highly lucrative field.

Cosmetic medicine is bringing a fresh face to interventional radiology with new minimally invasive applications and opportunities to profit from this highly lucrative field.

Cosmetic procedures could be a problem-solver for interventional radiologists, who are plagued by declining reimbursement and the pressure to generate more revenue for their groups, said Dr. Ziv J. Haskal, director of vascular and interventional radiology at Columbia University.

Haskal and Dr. Rodney Raabe, an interventionalist from Spokane, WA, hosted a one-day symposium on aesthetic medicine at the 2007 Society of Interventional Radiology meeting in March. Attendees learned that cosmetic medicine represents a billion-dollar business with an increasing demand but a short supply of qualified professionals. The list of procedures IRs could be doing includes Botox injections for facial wrinkles; injection of collagen and other dermal fillers for facial contouring; and laser-based removal of sun spots, acne, and hair. Skills developed by IRs for minimally invasive treatment of varicose veins and other unsightly vascular malformations are directly applicable to many of these cosmetic procedures sought by patients, Haskal said.

"This field reinvents itself again and again. Those who believe that this will not be part of interventional radiology practice may be the ones who said no in the past to other areas. You only need to learn from history," he said.