The American Med Spa Association (AmSpa) Launches the AmSpa Aesthetic Safety Council (AASC)

Posted By American Med Spa Association, Thursday, October 29, 2020

The American Med Spa Association (AmSpa) has announced the creation of the AmSpa Aesthetic Safety Council (AASC), which is designed to help the organization further its goal of promoting compliance, safety and profitability throughout the medical aesthetic industry.
In spite of the international pandemic, medical aesthetics remains one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. Because of this, it is critical that compliance and education become a strong and consistent focus for industry endeavors to ensure medical aesthetics stays safe and profitable. The time has come for the industry to come together and work toward this common goal.
To this end, AmSpa has launched the AASC, which consists of medical aesthetic industry professionals from different practice levels—including physicians, APRNs/NPs, RNs, PAs and owners—who will review and provide feedback on AmSpa’s recently released practice guidelines, as well as guide AmSpa to ensure that it is helping to make the medical aesthetic industry more compliant, more profitable and, ultimately, safer for patients. The AASC will also provide insight, feedback and “in the field” leadership for AmSpa.
AmSpa is also collaborating with the International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses (ISPAN), as well as the Plastic Surgical Nurses Certification Board (PSNCB), who will be represented by three professionals on the AASC.
The overarching goals of the AASC are:
The AASC is critical for the future safety, compliance and community of the medical aesthetic industry. Along with AmSpa Founder and CEO, Alex R. Thiersch, JD, and AmSpa COO, Cathy Christensen, the following individuals are the founding members of the AASC.
George Baxter-Holder, ARNP, DNP, CANS, is a board-certified aesthetic nurse practitioner and doctor of nursing practice, and he helps patients reverse the signs of aging at SkinSpirit Medical Spa in Austin, Texas. Additionally, he is the most utilized trainer with Galderma Aesthetics and is one of three faculty at the Academy for Injection Anatomy, along with Chris Surek, MD, and Hermine Warren, DNP, CANS. He holds a doctorate from Duke University and a master’s from the University of Washington.
According to Baxter-Holder: “I am very excited to be participating in the AmSpa Aesthetic Safety Council, because there is nothing more important to nurses than safe, effective practice. It is crucial for the public to understand the credentials and scope of their practitioners to be confident that they will have expert care.”
Alexander L. Blinski, MD, known to many as “Dr. B,” has been practicing cosmetic medicine since 2011; previously, he trained with his father—plastic surgeon Darryl J. Blinski, MD—and in general surgery/primary care through his residency. Blinski educates and oversees the team at Plump Cosmetics & Injectables in New York.
According to Blinski, "Safe and ethical practice is a duty as a medical provider and should be our top priority. In our practice, we are continuously reviewing and implementing new safety information to prevent and treat potential complications that may arise. I am extremely excited and honored to be a member of the AASC. This is a long-overdue committee that can help bring clarity and safety to an amazing industry that I am lucky to be part of."
A. Jay Burns, MD, has enjoyed a prestigious academic career and has operated a successful, busy clinical practice during the last 30 years. He has had his work featured on Oprah Winfrey’s Medical Miracles show and has served in many prominent national plastic surgery society positions, including president of the American Society for Lasers in Medicine & Surgery. Burns is best known for facial and skin rejuvenation. He has a unique surgical perspective, passion and skill set that allow him to surgically address challenging consequences of facial aging. He remains a world leader, researcher, educator and champion for patients who desire non-surgical or minimally invasive solutions with reduced downtime. He recently opened a premier facility under his sole guidance and direction, Resurrect Skin M.D.
According to Burns, "Producing quality aesthetic results is not enough. We must produce those as consistently and safely as possible. I believe that is done through education and training. I am honored and privileged to partner with AmSpa to work on viable solutions to these important issues."
Known for her business philosophies of “profits with integrity” and “profit optimization through collaboration,” Nicole Chiaramonte is CEO of TWG Consulting Corp., founder of Synergy MedAesthetics, co-founder of Aesthetic Investments, LLC, and a private investor in more than a dozen medical spas. She has 25 years of experience in startup management, with 15 years of management services organization (MSO) ownership in the legal and medical industries, now specializing in non-surgical medical aesthetic practices. Chiaramonte has partnered with numerous respected facial plastic surgeons, as well as family practice physicians and independent advanced practice providers (APPs), by providing start-up capital, guidance and comprehensive oversight of their entry into the medical spa space.
Warren Danforth entered the medical spa industry in 2006 excited about the emerging opportunity of delivering elective cosmetic medical services in a consumer-oriented retail environment. Spa 35 was selected as the name based upon the premise 35 is the perfect age – old enough to be considered an independent adult, but not yet considered “old.” By delivering outstanding services, working with great people, and leveraging digital marketing Spa 35 has earned more than four hundred five-star customer reviews, and created a reputation for excellence among its clients having been voted the #1 Medical Spa in Idaho. Spa 35’s has gained national recognition in the industry. Warren was selected by Candela as a Key Opinion Leader to assist medical spa owners discover, select and market energy-based cosmetic devices. Prior to joining the medical spa industry Warren was a pioneer in the cellular telephone industry rising through sales, marketing and operations positions that included general manager.
According to Danforth, “Trust is the foundation of the medical spa industry, and that trust begins with the selection and delivery of safe, appropriate cosmetic services to consumers. The rapid growth of elective cosmetic services offered by medical spas has outpaced the regulatory framework created to manage the delivery of health care services. I look forward to contributing to the development of a new frame of reference for the safe delivery of cosmetic services that minimizes risk for our customers and maximizes the robust medical spa industry created by AmSpa members.”
Joshua Davis, aka “Tox” Josh, received his bachelor of science in nursing from Belmont University, and a bachelor of musical arts degree from Vanderbilt University. Past experiences include multi-specialty critical care, trauma intensive care, cardiac critical care, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and aesthetics/cosmetic dentistry. In addition to an impressive educational and medical background, Davis has an artistic eye for aesthetics and takes great pride in providing the very best services to his clients. He describes himself as an artist, an educator, and a perfectionist.
Leslie E. Harmon, BSN, RN, CANS, CPSN, PSNCB board member, is a certified plastic surgery nurse, is a certified aesthetic nurse specialist and serves on the Plastic Surgery Nurse Certification Board (PSNCB). Harmon is an active member of the International Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses and has vast knowledge and experience in plastic and cosmetic surgery care.
Erin Hennessey, ARNP, DNP, completed her advanced education with a doctorate in nursing practice with a specialized fellowship in dermatology from Case Western University. She is certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. A national trainer for MedAesthetics and a luminary for Sciton, Hennessey shares her expertise and techniques all over the United States. She is an active member of the Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses, the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, AmSpa, Sigma Theta Tau, and the Dermatology Nurses Association.
According to Hennessey: “When I am working with patients and students alike, safety is of the highest priority. Safety is a mindset that we engage in with all aspects of patient-centered care. For the sake of our patients, our colleagues and our profession, we must carefully choose the proper recommendations. It is for this reason that I am proud to serve and represent our advance practice nurses on the AmSpa Aesthetic Safety Council.”
Lynn Heublein is the CEO and co-founder of SkinSpirit Holdings, LLC. Heublein launched SkinSpirit in 2003 with Dr. M Dean Vistnes, MD—a Stanford-educated, board-certified plastic surgeon—as the first of its kind to offer comprehensive medical aesthetic services. Today, SkinSpirit is the top provider of Botox and dermal fillers in the United States, with locations in California, Texas, Utah and Washington. Heublein is also the chairwoman of Foxeye Robotics, a company focused on automation within the beauty category. Prior to SkinSpirit, she served as president and COO of, EVP of business development and co-founder of Catapult Entertainment, VP of marketing at THQ and brand manager at Procter and Gamble. Heublein received a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the University of Washington and an MBA from Stanford University.
According to Heublein, “Safety is the most important commitment to our staff and clients. It is our ethical imperative to provide the lowest-risk experience, and it must be a cornerstone to our growth as a reputable category.”
Maegen Kennedy, PA, has more than 11 years of experience in integrative family medicine and medical and aesthetic dermatology. Her approach to aesthetics focuses on “facial micro-optimization,” where minor changes are made to improve one’s overall appearance in a subliminal way. She was hand-selected to be a national trainer for Galderma. In 2019, she went to Galderma’s manufacturing warehouse in Uppsala, Sweden, to sit on its elite advisory board. Through advisory boards, on-stage lectures and peer-to-peer trainings, she is helping shape the future of the aesthetic industry. Her training takes her around the country to collaborate with top plastic surgeons, integrative family physicians, dermatologists and like-minded aesthetic providers. She is passionate about the patient experience and results, along with teaching other health care professionals the art, education, and safety of aesthetic and wellness medicine.
According to Kennedy, “I am honored to be a founding member of the AmSpa Aesthetic Safety Council (AASC). Through this council, I will be able to help shape the future of the aesthetic industry by reviewing the safety of both current and new aesthetic procedures.”
Grace Mclaurin, PA-C, has 23 years of experience as a physician assistant, and has extensive experience in internal medicine, women’s health, bio-identical hormone replacement, thyroid disorders, and non-surgical aesthetics. She founded Vitality Anti-Aging Center in 2006 because she felt a more integrative approach to health and wellness was her passion. She has special advanced skills in non-surgical aesthetics. She has extensive experience with multiple laser devices, neurotoxins, dermal fillers, skin care, vein therapy, PRP, Novathreads and more. She is a certified instructor for Allergan—the makers of Botox, Juvederm, Kybella, and SkinMedica. She has trained more than 3,000 providers in laser, injectables, hormones, thread lifts, vaginal rejuvenation, PRP and more. She is licensed to practice in North Carolina and maintains her certification through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. She is an active member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, ACAPA and North Carolina Medical Society. She is also a partner in Vitality Surgical Center and V-Infusion Hydration Center.
Gerrie M. Obi, MSN, ARNP, AGPCNP-BC, CPSN, ISPAN-F, brings more than three decades of plastic and aesthetic experience. She earned a master’s degree in nursing with a specialty in adult and geriatric primary care. Obi is a master level injector and has held positions in several of the major aesthetic corporations serving as an educator and physician liaison, providing clinical and scientific support for various products. Obi is also an international trainer; she trains the trainers as well as other master injectors, both nationally and internationally. She was the first Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN) in Northeast Florida and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Society for Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses (ISPAN). Obi has trained thousands of aesthetic providers globally over the past decades, as well as provided innovative aesthetic care in our area for countless patients.
Internationally renowned double board-certified Atlanta-based plastic surgeon Stanley Okoro, MD, FACS, graduated from Meharry Medical College, completed surgical training at Emory University, and then completed an additional three-year training in plastic and reconstructive Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center. He served in the U.S. Navy, achieving the rank of commander, and was the chief of plastic surgery. He is the medical director of Georgia Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Abuja Plastics, Amachi Medspa and Asuch Surgery Center. Dr. Okoro is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. He is a member of many prestigious and exclusive organizations in plastic surgery.
Founder and CEO of Greenwich Medical Spa, Marria Pooya, has grown the company from a two-person operation founded in 2005 to employ more than 30 staff members. Greenwich Medical Spa has treated more than 20,000 customers and earned accolades such as being one of the top 1% of Botox and fillers providers in the country. In 2019, Greenwich Medical was also recognized as one of the top medical spas in the country by the AmSpa and a top 5,000 fastest-growing company by Inc Magazine.
According to Pooya, “I am looking forward to being a part of the AASC, because as a business owner with multiple locations and in various states, I can help provide insights from an owner's perspective on how we can self-regulate and self-define proper protocols and rules and advocate for consistent laws across the states to ensure clear understanding by industry companies and practitioners. Doing so protects and benefits clients, staff and companies—a win win win.”
Susanne Schmaling is the president and founder of the Esthetics Council, an education and advocacy organization for licensed estheticians. She is also licensed master esthetician, certified laser technician, and accomplished instructor with more than 28 years’ experience. Her career encompasses all aspects of the esthetic profession including medical esthetics, sales, spa ownership, and education development. Susanne has presented at elite conferences internationally, is part of Skin Inc. magazine's advisory board and helped lead Pivot Point International’s new esthetic fundamentals program, created ASCP’s Skinpro online education series (2012) and authored several books such as Milady’s Aesthetician Series: The Comprehensive Guide to Equipment (2008) and Aging Skin (2011), as well as contributor to Milady’s Professional Makeup-Aging Skin (2012). Susanne is widely published, contributing articles to prominent industry publications including Skin Inc., New York Times and other online providers. Her latest project is launching a new company within the Beauty Tech space for consumers.
According to Schmaling, "I am honored to be a part of the AASC to help represent the esthetician position within the medical spa industry. I have been working within the this part of the field since the early 90’s when the first laser hair removal devices were launched. I personally have experienced permanent facial scarring myself from a medical practitioner who was negligent. I feel strongly that no one should ever experience this and made it my mission to make sure that everyone is safe performing cosmetic medical treatments including the practitioner performing them. Over the years have seen the effects of poor training and the confusing scope that everyone is working under which prompted me to create the Esthetics Council. Getting definitive standards that are fair for all while respecting safety is essential for the longevity of our profession."
Chris C. Surek, DO, is a board-certified plastic surgeon and internationally recognized facial anatomist. He is an assistant professor of anatomy at Kansas City University and clinical assistant professor of plastic surgery at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Dr. Surek is the founder and director of the Academy for Injection Anatomy, a comprehensive CME-accredited hands-on cadaver injection anatomy course. He specializes in cosmetic surgery of the face, breast and body, as well as non-invasive facial rejuvenation procedures. He has co-authored several book chapters and published original research in facial cosmetic surgery, facial anatomy and filler injection. Dr. Surek is also the co-author of Facial Volumization: An Anatomic Approach, an anatomy-based textbook for filler injections. He serves as a key opinion leader for several companies within the aesthetic industry and teaches cadaver-based facial anatomy courses nationally and internationally.
According to Dr. Surek, “Safe and ethical practices are the cornerstone of any aesthetic medicine entity. Progressive growth in this exciting field requires a diverse and open-minded collaboration among providers. I am looking forward to serving on this council and hope this committee can help all of us continue to build collegiately and alignment among aesthetic providers.”
Hermine Warren, APRN, DNP, CANS, has been in nursing since 1974, with an advanced practice degree since 1980. She is an educational/clinical trainer both internationally and nationally, is a GenNOW and PALETTE faculty member, and has maintained a clinical practice in the non-surgical cosmetic subspecialty field since 2004. Also, she is co-faculty for Academy for Injection Anatomy with Dr. Chris Surek and George Baxter-Holder, ARNP, DNP, CANS. Warren graduated with her Master of Science in nursing from the University of Colorado in 1979 and her doctor of nursing practice from Walden University in 2014. She has been a member of Sigma Theta Tau since 1979 and a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society since 2013. She is also a published author within the aesthetic arena.
According to Warren, “Safety has always been a number one priority for me within my aesthetic practice. ‘Do no harm’ should be a health care practitioner’s mantra, and hopefully the (AASC) will provide a beginning platform for elevated practice within the aesthetic arena.
Terri Wojak is a medical aesthetic professional with more than 20 years of experience in the industry. She is the education director of GlycoAla and runs her own education company, Aesthetics Exposed Education. She is a respected authority on skin care in a medical setting, education and business development on multiple levels. Wojak has built more than 50 individual courses based on skin care in a medical setting. More than 100 articles by Wojak have appeared in a multitude of industry magazines, and she has published two books: Aesthetics Exposed: Mastering Skin Care in a Medical Setting & Beyond in May 2014 and Mastering Medical Esthetics in 2009.
According to Wojak, “I’m excited to be a part of the AmSpa Aesthetic Safety Council as a liaison for aestheticians. Safety practices are essential to keep patients protected, as well as defining standards in our industry for each profession. I want to make a difference in the aesthetics industry through collaboration and education.”