What Is a Medical Spa?

Woman getting a facial.
A medical spa offers many treatment procedures that help clear acne.. Image: Gubcio / Getty Images

Medical spas have become more popular in recent years for men and women alike. Medical spas, also called medi-spas or med spas, are a kind of a hybrid between the traditional day spa and a medical clinic.

Medical spas strive to blend the best of two worlds -- a relaxing spa experience with the procedures and expertise typically only found at a doctor’s office.

How does a medical spa differ from a traditional day spa?

The biggest difference between a traditional day spa and a medical spa: medical procedures that aren't offered at the day spa can be performed at the medical spa.


Unlike day spas, medical spas must be affilliated with, overseen, or run by a medical doctor.  While not every procedure is done by a doctor, they are performed under the supervision of the doctor, most often a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

Medical spas themselves can vary widely, depending on where you go.  Some are as posh as the day spa you visited during your last vacation; others are decidedly more clinical.  While day spas focus on relaxation, most medical spas are driven by results.

What types of treatments are done at a medical spa?

The menu will vary depending on which medical spa you visit, in general you can expect to find treatments for acne, aging skin, hair removal, and more. 

Like at a traditional day spas, luxurious treatments like massage, salt glows, seaweed wraps, and facials can be had at a medical spa.

They also offer more specialized treatments that are typically only found at a dermatology clinic.

  Some of the more common offerings include light and laser treatments, injectables like Juvederm, Restalyne, and Botox, as well as chemical peels.

For the acne sufferer, medical spas offer procedures to treat breakouts, lighten post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, reduce scarring, and improve the overall appearance of the skin.

Who will perform my treatment, a doctor or an esthetician?

Who performs your treatment depends on treatment itself.  The doctor that oversees the medical spa is in charge of all procedures that fall under the medical realm. Estheticians handle the more routine day spa therapies.

Expect that an esthetician, also known as a skin care therapist, will do all non-medical procedures.  So, your estheticians will do basic facials, massage, body scrubs and the like.  Estheticians can also do certain non-invasive cosmetic treatments like microdermabrasion and light chemical peels.

Although each state has its own regulations concerning medical spas, in general all medical procedures must be performed by a physician.  This means all injectables, stronger chemical peels, and laser treatments will be done by the doctor.

Next Steps:

Before You Go To the Medical Spa

Treating Acne at the Medical Spa

Safety at the Medical Spa

Treating Acne at the Day Spa

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