Medical Spa Basics
Medical Spa Basics
Steve Fallek (Plastic Surgeon and Medical Director, Face Focus Medical Spa) gives expert video advice on: What is the difference between a medical spa and cosmetic surgery?; How do I find a medical spa?; How do I choose the right medical spa? and more...
What is a "medical spa"?
A "medical spa", also called a "medi-spa", is really a combination of both a spa and a doctor's office. Medi-spas have been very popular over the last couple of years because there's really been a blurring of the line among all beauty treatments. Spas used to offer just non-invasive treatments, while doctors usually offered more invasive treatments. With the blurring of the line, a medical spa can now offer a variety of treatment options ranging from the smaller, or non-invasive, to really more aggressive procedures. I think patients have been very happy to have the option them to have this whole spectrum of procedures done in a medi-spa.
What is the difference between a medical spa and cosmetic surgery?
Cosmetic surgery for the most part has always required surgery, and always included surgical procedures such as breast augmentation, liposuction, and face lifts. On the other hand, many medical spas usually start with the least invasive procedures such as massage or microdermabrasion. So, medical spas and cosmetic surgery are really at different ends of the beauty regimen spectrum.
Will insurance cover medical spa procedures?
The type of medical insurance that most of us have does not cover medical spa procedures. These are considered cosmetic procedures by almost all insurance companies. There are other options for paying for medical spa procedures, such as credit cards and financing.
Who can perform medical spa treatments?
The question of who can perform medical spa treatments is very variable. Much of it depends on the procedure being done and what state it's in. For example, in certain states, injections can only be done by a licensed doctor while in other states they can be done by a nurse practitioner. For procedures such as microdermabrasion, that might be performed by an aesthetician. So, looking at the procedure and the state will tell you exactly who is licensed to perform that procedure.
Who regulates medical spas?
Medical spas are regulated from state to state. The regulation of medical spas is a rather gray area, and a lot of this is in flux. As more and more doctors enter the medical spa area, there's been a lot of turf battles regarding who should be in a medical spa and who should be in control of the medical spa. Right now, the states have very loose regulation of medical spas. And a lot of the doctor organizations are really getting involved, to protect their own turf and to make sure that clients and patients are safe at medical spas.
What are "non-invasive treatments"?
A non-invasive treatment is really a treatment that doesn't penetrate deeply through the skin. there are different levels of invasiveness ranging from regular invasiveness, minimally invasive, moderately invasive, and then, non-invasive. So a treatment that doesn't involve a needle or scalpel is, most likely, considered an non-invasive treatment. Examples would be a massage or, potentially, something like microdermabrasion.
What are "minimally-invasive treatments"?
Minimally invasive treatments are usually considered to be procedures where either a laser or a needle is involved, rather than a scalpel or a knife. Examples of minimally invasive treatments are treatments such as Botox, which is an injection, or Restalin or Perllain, which are also injections. Even something such as a laser treatment is minimally invasive. Again, minimally invasive is a treatment not involving a scalpel or a knife.
Is a doctor always present during medical spa procedures?
A doctor is not always present during a medical spa treatment. And again, this is an area of great controversy. Your doctor should be around and should certainly be in the office if a medical treatment is being done. If in fact it's a less invasive or non-invasive procedure that an aesthetician might be doing, you might be OK if the doctor is not in the office. But certainly if something more invasive such as a laser or Botox is being used, I would certainly suggest that your doctor not only be there but probably do the procedure.
What questions should I ask the doctor before booking treatments?
I am a big fan of regulation and education. I want to know that my aesthetician, my plastic surgeon, or my doctor is overly qualified, overly trained, and overly regulated. I want to make sure that I'm in a safe, protective environment and I'm getting the best treatment. To me, that information is available almost anywhere. If you have any questions about your doctors, look them up online, check their accreditation, check to make sure they have never been sued for malpractice. To me, it's really a safety issue; that's paramount.
Is financing available for medical spa procedures?
Financing is available for medical spa procedures and what's really nice about most medical spa procedures is that the cost involved is rather minimal, but almost all spas will certainly take credit cards, and many of them are offering financing for some of the more expensive procedures
What treatments are considered medical spa treatments?
Medical spas are really an offshoot of a regular spa, but it includes more of the medical treatments and medical procedures that are done in a doctor's office. For example, treatments such as any treatment with a laser, some of the heavier chemical peels, Botox, or any of the injections, would be considered a typical regimen or a typical part of a medical spa, as opposed to a regular day spa.