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What is a Medical Spa?

Questions To Ask When You Choose a Medi Spa

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Botox injection at a medical spa.

Injectables are a popular medical spa service.

Digital Vision/Getty Images

A medical spa is a hybrid between a medical clinic and a day spa that operates under the supervision of medical doctor. Medical spas can treat conditions on your face and body like brown spots, redness, and broken capillaries that cannot be treated at all or as effectively by a traditional esthetician.

Medical spa menus vary, but you can usually get also get medical spa treatments like laser treatments , laser hair removal, IPL (intense pulsed light) treatments, microdermabrasion, photofacials, injectables like Botox and fillers, aggressive chemical peels and skin tightening or skin rejuvenation.

Medical spas tend to have a more clinical atmosphere than day spas. But many also offer relaxing services like massage and body treatments. Some medical spas have a wellness focus and include services like acupuncture, nutritional counseling and naturopathic doctor consultations.

Questions You Should Ask Before You Choose A Medical Spa

  • Who owns and operates the medical spa? Is it owned by a doctor? Is he actually on the premises supervising operations and doing treatments? Regulations vary from state to state. A medical doctor generally has to oversee the procedures performed in a medical spa, but this does not mean he is always (or ever!) on the premises. Sometimes doctors lend their names to medical spas but have relatively little involvement.

  • Who will be performing the procedure? What is the licensing and training of the people who are actually doing the services? How long have they been doing the procedure? This is especially important with laser hair removal. Many states don't require any license whatsoever, and you can be badly burned -- literally -- if someone doesn't know what they're doing. Ask for before and after photos of their work.

  • What kind of equipment do they use? When did they buy it? Prices for medical spa treatments like laser and skin tightening (or skin rejuvenation) are high because the equipment itself is expensive. Research the type of equipment they use for the treatment you're interested in, because it's a complex field and the technology is always changing. You really want the most up-to-date, least painful technologies for procedures like skin tightening.

  • What will this treatment realistically do for me? Sometimes doctors and cosmetic surgeons open medical spas as an adjunct to their practice, so they can sell more services. You may give more credence to a doctor's recommendations that you get microdermabrasion or laser treatments. Don't lose your critical judgment just because a doctor is recommending a treatment.

  • How many treatments will I need to see results? This is a hard questions to answer. People respond differently, and you may get good results from just one treatments or you may be unsatisfied after a series. But ask the therapist what the general protocol is -- how many treatments you need, how frequently, and what you need to do to maintain results.
  • The best approach is to identify what is bothering you and then see what the medical spa or doctor recommends to treat it. Doing independent research is good because the medical spa or doctor will recommend the machines they've already invested in. It's important to know if it's the best choice for you.

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