The Medical Spa

Your Medical Spa Questions Answered

Part day spa, part skin clinic, medical spas offer another option for acne treatment, anti-aging therapies, and other dermatological procedures.  Should you consider getting a treatment done at a medical spa?

Get answers to all your questions here, before you book your first medial spa appointment.

What is a Medical Spa?

A woman getting a treatment at a medical spa
Photo: Medioimages / Photodisc / Getty Images

Imagine a relaxing day spa where you can also get laser treatments, chemical peels and Botox, all under the supervision of a doctor, and you'll have a good idea of how medical spas function. Medical spas have become increasingly popular as people look for more relaxing cosmetic dermatology treatments.

Medical spas (also called medi-spas) differ from traditional day spas because a medical doctor either supervising or performing your procedure.  This allows the medical spa to offer more specialized treatments not found at your traditional day spa.

Estheticians also work at medical spas. They'll do the typical day spa procedures, like acne treatment facials.

Can Acne be Treated at the Medical Spa?

Most of the anti-acne procedures and scar treatments that are found at a dermatologist’s office can also be done at a medical spa. Some of the more popular medical spa treatments include laser and light treatments, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion.

Before booking your appointment, ask how much experience the medical spa, and technician doing your procedure, have at treating acne or acne scars. Many medical spas specialize in one area.  If you're really looking for help with your acne, you probably won't want to go to a medical spa that specializes in laser hair removal.   

How Safe are Medical Spas?

Most medical spas are safe places to get treatments done, though some dubious enterprises are out there. The problem lies in ambiguous regulations concerning medical spas.

Although all medical spas are required to operate under a medical doctor, the doctor doesn't necessarily have to be the one doing your procedure. In fact, the doctor doesn't even have to physically be in the medical spa at all.

Before you go, ask who will be doing your procedure. It needn't always be the physician, but one should at least be available if any questions or problems arise.

The take-home message is this: Do your homework before having a treatment done at any medical spa. A bit of scrutiny will help weed out questionable establishments so you’ll be left with the more trustworthy spas.

How Can I Choose the Right Medical Spa?

You shouldn't trust your skin to just anyone. Since there are no national standards for medical spas as of yet, the burden of ensuring an establishment is safe falls on you.

Carefully vet your potential medical spa before having any treatment done. Ask lots of questions and check credentials and references.

The most credible medical spas are operated under the supervision of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

Are Medical Spas the Only Option for Professional Acne Treatment Procedures?

Not at all!  Medical spas are far from the only place to have acne or acne scar treatments done.  They may not even be the best choice for you.

Basic skin care and acne facials, light chemical peels, and microdermabrasion can all be done at a traditional day spa or skin spa.  Procedures that aren't offered at the spa can be done at your dermatology office.

Keep in mind, if you are using any prescription acne medications, you should talk to your dermatologist before making an appointment at the medical spa (or traditional day spa, for that matter).  Some procedures may be off-limits for you, at least for now.  So you'll want to get your derm's OK before having any procedure done, for acne or otherwise.

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