Medical Spa Services: A Clinical Approach to Beauty and Skincare

  • Medispas marry traditional spa services with clinical procedures.
  • The American Med Spa Association suggests that 50% of medispas operate illegally.
  • A properly supervised medispa can help you to get the most out of your treatment, including recovery.

Imagine if a visit to the clinic or doctor’s office for a cosmetic procedure could combine state-of-the-art technology with the pressure-free, patient-oriented atmosphere of a spa. If that sounds enticing, then a medical spa might be just the experience for you.

Whether your objective is to smoothen your silhouette, lose weight, tighten wrinkles, remove unwanted hairs, or merely enjoy a relaxing therapeutic experience, the tranquil surroundings of a medispa, away from a more hurried hospital environment, is proving to have tremendous consumer appeal.

What Is a Medical Spa?

Medical spas are hybrid spas that provide medical, aesthetic and spa services in a nurturing, discreet and relaxing environment.

Traditional spa services include massage, acupuncture, seaweed wraps, pedicures, manicures, and facials. Clinical and minimally-invasive medical procedures such as chemical peels, tattoo removal, injectables, and laser treatments are usually also featured.

The marriage between the clinic and spa is still in its honeymoon phase, but the industry appears poised for a worldwide economic boom. The increasing demand by consumers for non-surgical cosmetic procedures is the driving force behind these physician-supervised facilities.

A 2014 Allied Market Research study projects that the overall market for spas worldwide will reach $154.6 billion by 2022, and that medical spas, in particular, could experience a growth rate as high as 18% annually over the next five years.

Requirements and Regulations: Do Your Homework

Bear in mind that regulations regarding medical spas vary from state to state.

Jeff Howell, director of government affairs for the Missouri State Medical Association, summed up the state of the medispa industry in 2016 when he told USA Today that regulations are trying to catch up with the industry. “It’s not like hospitals that have to be inspected by the Department of Health. An industry like this develops and regulation seems to follow. It’s like Uber or payday loans; the regulations come after.”

Before you pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with your local medispa, take note that American Med Spa Association (AmSpa) suggests that due to regulatory factors, up to 50% of medical spas and medical aesthetic practices operate illegally in the United States.

When considering a cosmetic procedure at a medispa, consumers need to do their homework to ensure they’ll be receiving the quality medical care they expect and deserve. First and foremost, clients need to review whether the doctor overseeing the medispa has a board certification in a cosmetic medical specialty such as plastic surgery or dermatology.

Detroit’s Dr. Donna Tepper, a reconstructive surgeon with the Henry Ford Health System, notes that to ensure you receive top-quality medical care, specific procedures must be performed by qualified professionals. “Fillers, Botox, laser hair removal or deeper peels should be overseen by a physician.”

According to Dr. Tepper the following three questions should be on every consumer’s list when it comes to choosing a medispa:

  • Will a physician be on site during the treatment?
  • What are the supervising physician’s credentials?
  • Who do I call if I have a reaction or an issue in the middle of the night?

She insists that should the answer to the latter question involve going to a hospital emergency room, consider it an automatic red flag, warning that you need to find a different medical spa.

Other factors to consider when picking a medispa include:

  • Pricing — If a medispa is offering suspiciously cheap cosmetic procedures that sound too good to be true, that spa should probably be avoided.
  • Experience — Make sure that the technicians providing the treatment are licensed, experienced, and fully qualified to perform the procedure in question.
  • Patient relations — Read customer reviews to better determine if other clients were satisfied with their medispa services.

Reasons for Visiting a Medispa

When visiting a clinic or doctor’s office for cosmetic treatments, patients want to feel prioritized and unhurried.

Given the busy schedules of doctors today, patients often complain they feel processed and compartmentalized, wishing they could spend more than the 20 minutes they’re allotted with their doctor before he or she has to attend to their next patient.

The more leisurely pace at a medispa provides patients with more opportunities to engage with healthcare professionals and discuss their cosmetic goals in a comprehensive fashion.

Another benefit of legitimate medispas are their ability to address long-term health issues and prior injuries. Whether you’re quitting smoking, dealing with an athletic injury or just hoping to better manage your weight, the right medispa can help towards improving your long-term health and well-being.

Exclusive Treatments Offered at Medical Spas

There is typically a wider variety of cosmetic and wellness treatments available at a medispa than regular day spas or a doctor’s office. And as a bonus, patients are afforded the opportunity to indulge in an array of relaxing recovery options that a clinic or doctor’s office can’t provide.

Among other treatments, medical spas tend to offer:

  • Dermabrasion: skin resurfacing to help reduce facial scarring.
  • Dermal fillers: used to diminish facial lines.
  • Dermaplaning: exfoliates skin with a scalpel to reduce acne scars.
  • Hair replacement: hair grafts from one part of the body to the head.
  • Laser hair removal: highly concentrated light directed at hair follicles to inhibit their growth.
  • Microblading: a tattooing treatment that fills in sparse eyebrows.
  • Microdermabrasion: a skin rejuvenation technique used to treat sun damage and stretch marks.
  • Microneedling: tiny needles create tiny punctures in the skin to trigger collagen production.
  • Permanent makeup: techniques that uses organic pigment to color the cheeks, lips and eyes.
  • Scar revision: surgery that minimizes the tone and texture of existing scars.
  • Sclerotherapy: also known as spider vein treatment, this involves the injection of a solution into affected veins.
  • Skin rejuvenation resurfacing: laser light, energy-based peels are also known as non-surgical facelifts.
  • Threaded facelift: a method that lifts sagging skin using barbed threads.
  • Ultrasound: a non-surgical treatment that helps tighten skin around the jawline, eyebrows and chest.
  • Vaginal rejuvenation: energy-based treatments that help treat vaginal health after childbirth, a hysterectomy, menopause, or chemotherapy.
  • Vampire facelift: injections of the patient’s own blood to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Dr. Jennessa Iannitelli of the Advanced Image Med Spa in Glendale, AZ explains how medical spas allow patients to receive high-quality treatments from expert practitioners who are up to date on industry standards and techniques.

“I am trained and capable of doing any of the procedures offered in the spa, but I concentrate on liposuction, vampire procedures, injectables (fillers/Botox/Kybella), and non-invasive facelifts. The laser tech/aestheticians do the chemical peels, Hydrafacials, microneedling, laser resurfacing, laser hair reduction, and photofacials.”

A medispa can also help you better heal by providing an environment that is comfortable and reassuring, offering a holistic context to ease your mind and keep you calm. Medical procedures that normally rouse anxiety in a hospital setting are easier to endure when a Swedish massage is also scheduled.

Dr. Iannitelli insists that with regards to sterility and protocols she runs the Advanced Image Med Spa the same way as a doctor’s office and considers it a valid medical facility. “Additionally, by not using a hospital you avoid overcharges and facility fees, plus it’s safer in some ways as we don’t treat sick patients and have those types of viruses and bacteria in our environment.”

In Closing: Enjoy Your Treatment… and Feel Free to Tip

Ultimately, ensuring your safety and wellbeing is your responsibility. AmSpa suggests that as a consumer you take the initiative to inform yourself about the medical spa treatments available to you by reviewing their Medical Spa Treatment Directory before scheduling an appointment.

Once you’ve done your homework and found a reputable medispa that appeals to your needs, you’ll be free to indulge in state-of-the-art cosmetic procedures while simultaneously pampering yourself with the type of blissful, spa day extravagance you deserve.

One final question patients frequently ask is if tipping is required or expected at a medispa. When visiting a doctor, etiquette does not demand tipping. However, at a standard spa or resort it’s common to include a gratuity of 15% – 20% to the final bill, another potential expense to weigh into the equation should you opt for a medispa over a doctor.

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