If you want a relaxing day with cucumber slices over your eyes, you visit a spa. If you want to identify a skin abnormality or concern on your body, you visit a dermatologist’s office. But, on what occasion, you may visit a med spa. But, what is a medi spa? Well, to put it simply:

A medical spa is a mix between a dermatologist’s office and a skin and body spa, with the difference being that a medical spa offers non-invasive, innovative laser treatments to treat and heal skin.

Med spas can provide similar types of treatments as dermatologists’ offices, but medical spas focus entirely on cosmetic procedures for aesthetic purposes. Medical spas offer non-invasive services like traditional spas, however, medical spa services are supervised by physicians and registered nurses.

If you want to learn more about what your experience will be like at a medical spa, The Skin Report podcast is here to help. On the podcast, Dr. Simran Sethi, an Internal Medicine doctor and the Founder and Medical Director of RenewMD medical spas, discusses what exactly a medical spa is and the unique services they provide to transform patients’ skin.

Medical Spas vs. Other Establishments

An important thing to realize about medical spas, is that they are medical practices, not esthetician or cosmetologist-operated spas. Some medical spa procedures may require injecting or delivering laser or radio frequency energy through devices that penetrate into deeper skin tissue, but these are done so with the cleanliness practices of a doctor’s office. Unlike dermatologists, who specialize in treating medical skin conditions, medical spas focus only on aesthetic treatments. See below for some examples of conditions that are treated by these practices.

Dermatologists – Non Aesthetic Conditions Medical Spas – Aesthetic Conditions
Skin cancer
Autoimmune skin diseases
Acne production, scars
Hyperpigmentation, dark spots, melasma
Wrinkles, lines, environmental damage
Sagging, loose skin

Another important distinction between dermatologists’ offices and medical spas involves insurance coverage. Dermatologist services address skin conditions and diseases that impact health and longevity and are therefore covered by insurance. However, aesthetic treatments are considered elective, so med spa services are not covered by insurance in most cases, however, medical spas more than likely offer financing options for treatments and services.

So, if you go to a medical spa, who will treat you? Unlike dermatologists’ offices, medical spas don’t have to be owned by dermatologists specifically. Any medical specialist can practice aesthetic medicine at a medi spa, and it’s even better if they have had the specialized aesthetic medicine training, or are medically supervised by a medical doctor. These are necessary to provide the aesthetic services that medical spas offer. This means that you could be treated by a doctor, dermatologist, a nurse, or esthetician, all who have had specialized training in aesthetic medicine.

So does this mean that medical spas are as “lax” as traditional spas? Well, not quite.

While all spas aim to offer a good experience, and many do, medical spas offer medical- and technology-based treatment plans that day spas cannot, as the experience level and expectations differ.Both types of spas offer unique experiences that are equally valuable, and solely based on the client or patient’s personal needs and goals.

Medical spas provide minimally invasive medical procedures that may have downtime where the skin is healing for a few days, depending on the service, so practicing proper sterility and disinfection in rooms and between patients is essential. Therefore, like dermatologists’ offices, medical spas use a lot of disposal paper and keep surfaces clear to prevent the spread of bacteria.

What to Expect from a Medical Spa

So, when and under what circumstances should patients visit a medical spa as opposed to a traditional spa or a dermatologist’s office? And when they do, what should they expect to experience?

The provider (a provider is a medical practitioner or certified specialist) that a patient should see depends on the condition they wish to treat. Remember, you can visit a dermatologist and a medical spa at different stages in your skin journey, as dermatologists can treat your non-aesthetic conditions, and Med Spa can treat your aesthetic conditions.

When you visit a medical spa, the type of professional treatment you receive may depend on your state’s laws. Laws around who can treat you at a medical spa vary from state to state, but you will most likely be treated by a doctor or nurse.

Before receiving a treatment plan, you will usually have a complimentary consultation where a medical provider and consultant will assess your skin concerns. Following the consultation, you and your provider should develop a plan to address your goals, and you should receive a written plan and quote for the services.

The medical spa industry has made many aesthetic goals achievable as their treatments are minimally invasive, have almost no downtime, and are still cost-effective. In addition, the medical spa industry is innovative, with new technologies constantly developing to help people improve the appearance of their skin and their confidence as a result.

If you are interested in learning more about how medical spas can help you transform your skin, listen to Season 1, Episode 13 of The Skin Report Podcast and follow the series for more information about science-backed skincare!