Many people think of a med spa as a type of one-stop shopping for all their personal cosmetic needs. In theory, a med spa - short for medical spa - is a cross between a doctor's office and a day spa, with all procedures carried out under the supervision and authority of a licensed medical doctor. The reality, however, is far from that.
Not all medical spas cater to the same clientele.
If you want to have a facial using the latest French products or a full back massage, then looking in the phone book and finding your nearest med spa is your best bet. But if you want anything more invasive, from having a laser hair treatment to trying out the latest chemical peel, it's best to do your homework first.
Better Safe than Sorry
Visiting a med spa should be fun, relaxing and productive, and not result in a visit to the emergency room, infection or permanent scarring. While the non-invasive treatments carried out at most med spas have less risk of complication than full-on plastic or cosmetic surgery, serious injury could still occur. Ask these questions before you book an appointment:
Is there a doctor in the house? Med spa regulations vary from state to state. While medical treatments are, in theory, supposed to be carried out only with full medical supervision, often the doctor is not even on-site, let alone in the same room. And in some cases, unlicensed personnel with only the most rudimentary training in a specific procedure will be working on you. Make sure there is a licensed full-time medical director and nurse on-site - preferably in the room with you, or at least in a supervisory position overseeing qualified medical personnel. It's advised that the doctor be either a licensed plastic surgeon or member of an affiliate group such as the American Society of Aesthetic Medicine.
Is staff experienced in specific procedures? A med spa may have ten years of experience overall - but only two weeks' experience in the procedure you want to have carried out. Find out who your practitioner will be and ask how many times he or she has carried out the specific procedure you want - in the last year, month and week. Also, find out how often serious side effects occur - this should happen with less than one percent of the treatments provided. Finally, check credentials and ask about training and background. If staff appear insulted by your questions, go somewhere else.