What is a Med Spa? What Should You Look For?

By Dr. Sarah Bennett, NMD / August 7, 2019

Med Spa

You may have heard about med spas and their increasing popularity, even in places outside of big cities like Scottsdale, Arizona or other less expected areas.

The exciting thing about this is that the accessibility of services and treatments to help with aesthetic concerns is becoming much more common even if you don’t live a constantly glamorous and luxurious lifestyle.

Med spas help to bring a bit of that luxury right to you, no matter who or where you are! If you want to hop on board and look for one that’s right for you, all you need to do is take on some research to make sure you get exactly what you’re looking for.

So, all that said, what is a med spa? What should you look for? Find out all of the important points to keep in mind in this ultimate 2019 guide!

What is a Med Spa?

Med Spa

The first and most important question to answer here is what exactly a med spa is and why you should be interested in the first place.

Chances are, you’ve already heard a thing or two that may have spiked your curiosity. Perhaps a friend or acquaintance underwent treatment that has them looking years younger, or maybe you simply heard about it somewhere online.

Regardless of how you’ve first heard of med spas, you have somehow found yourself drawn to them, and with good reason!

Med spas, medical spas, medi-spas, whatever phrasing you’ve heard are all the same thing: a hybrid between a traditional, relaxing day spa and a medical clinic. This combination offers you the best of both worlds by giving you that relaxing spa-day experience to ease your stress away while also offering the procedures and expertise that you will only find at a doctor’s office.

While traditional day spas are great ways to unwind and receive simple, soothing treatments or services, med spas take it to the next level and offer you more elaborate or complex procedures that cannot be done at a typical day spa without medical certification or experience.

Simply put, med spas will all be affiliated with, overseen or run by a medical professional. Oftentimes, this professional will be a dermatologist, plastic surgeon or naturopathic physician.

Though these simple points hold true for all med spas, it is important to note that they can vary wildly. For example, two med spas both in Phoenix, Arizona may have entirely different focuses or service offerings as well as completely different ambiances and priorities.

For this reason, it’s always important to look into all of your options carefully so that you can find the one that best suits your needs and situations. The good news here is that many ventures will offer a free consultation so that you can really sit down and see if your chemistry with any given physician is positive and right.

Med Spas and Skincare

Med Spas and Skincare

Now that we’ve established the basics of what exactly a med spa is, let’s get into the fun part: the potential services and treatments that you can receive.

One of the most popular uses of a med spa is regarding any skin needs or concerns. Med spas have a plethora of options for help in this department which can really help to restore your confidence since the skin is one of the most central parts of any individual’s natural radiance and beauty.

If your concerns rest in skin damage that results from aging, most med spas will offer injections like Botox, Dysport and Xeomen, neuromodulators that relax the muscles to prevent damage to the skin that causes wrinkles.

If you are looking for general skin rejuvenation, there are facial and laser treatments to help with that as well. Microneedling with PRP, chemical peels and a variety of light and laser treatments specifically designed to improve pigment balance, texture, acne scars or breakouts, face lines and other concerns.

Spider vein treatment can be a good option to get rid of the ugly, small, red and purple veins that are easily visible through the skin. They sometimes get confused with varicose vein removal which is more than just a cosmetic issue and involve a vascular surgeon in many cases.

If you are looking to benefit skin integrity overall, you can do so by treating skin laxity and stimulating your own collagen production with PDO threads. If you’re a little unsure about what collagen is and why your body needs it, the important takeaway is that it is a protein that helps keep our bones and skin strong to maintain a youthful appearance. Unsurprisingly, while it is naturally found within the body already, it decreases as we age.

Something else about skin care that you may not know is that one of the first signs of aging is volume loss of fat pads in your face. To help with this, dermal fillers restore a youthful shape in the cheeks, temples, and lines around the mouth. Even if you aren’t looking into dermal fillers for anti-aging purposes, dermal fillers can be used to enhance your natural features with a plumping effect to improve symmetry and fill your face out more.

Most importantly, medical-grade skin care is the foundation and daily upkeep of the skin. A good med spa will be able to make specific recommendations based on your individual skin type for a medical-grade skin care line that can include toner, cleanser, lotion, SPF and more.

If a med spa has a naturopathic medical doctor to consult with you about nutrition, hormones, thyroid and other internal variables that have a dramatic effect on skin, you’ll be even more ahead of the game and able to get to the root of your concerns and find fast, simple solutions.


Anti Aging

That said, the most common goal of many med spas (aside from addressing health concerns to help you live your best life) is to fight negative signs of aging that may be impacting your confidence.

To achieve this goal, med spas will at minimum address skin and facial rejuvenation to restore a genuinely youthful look. Doing this will address your natural appearance and features and simply restore their radiance.

The ways that med spas will do this was mostly already addressed above where we went in-depth about skin solutions since the skin is such a critical part of any radiant and youthful appearance.

More well-rounded med spas will also provide personalized nutrition programs or perhaps even bio-identical hormone replacement therapy to help you work from the inside out. Not all concerns will have surface-level roots, so it’s important to also dive into more complicated areas for a sustainable solution to help your body run and function properly and efficiently.

Sometimes, med spas may not have everything that you need to obtain your goals, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still here to help! Many practices will have a physician to address all aspects of health who can also refer you to medical specialists if you need additional aid on top of your med spa appointments.

Other Common Med Spa Treatments and Services

Though treatments and services related to skin and anti-aging goals are some of the most common, there are also a variety of other options that many med spas might offer.

Since many med spas will have a naturopathic physician on staff, they might even offer some primary care solutions through natural remedies like acupuncture, herbal treatments, massage therapy, pain management and more.

Back on the aesthetic side of things, there are also laser treatments at many med spas that can help with things like laser hair removal, tattoo removal or other concerns that may not be directly related to skin rejuvenation or anti-aging needs.

Lastly, many med spas will offer solutions in regards to weight loss and body contouring. Though the skin is a huge part of your confidence, it often won’t end there, and feeling good about the body that you’re in is a critical part of your journey.

To help with this, many med spas will offer services like weight loss plans, hormone therapy to help with any particularly tough struggles, CoolSculpting, liposuction and more.

All in all, the goal of any med spa is to leave you feeling absolutely radiant in your skin. This can be achieved through a wide range of services and procedures, so you should definitely strike up a conversation with a local physician to narrow down exactly what help you might be in the market for if you don’t already have an idea!

Most Important Things to Look For

Now that you’re more in the know when it comes to the basics of what a med spa is and what it can do for you, you’re ready to start sorting through your options and narrowing down a provider.

The most important thing is that you look for practices who have experience in the services and areas you are most interested in, but aside from that, there are three general areas that anyone should look out for.

The first bit of advice is that you should look for a med spa with practitioners that have received certified training in the modalities they offer. This is especially important for injections, PDO threads and laser therapies since they are more complicated and intense treatments that will require substantial amounts of training and expertise.

The second tip is to make sure you look for a med spa with long-term practitioners. This point is especially important because seeing the same practitioner for your medical aesthetic procedures will ensure that you get the results you are looking for since techniques and experience will vary between providers.

This will also allow you to build and develop a relationship with your medical aesthetics providers, something that will enable them to learn your specific preferences and needs. Plus, you’ll receive more consistently better care.

Lastly, look for a med spa that will provide you with your full beauty plan at your initial visit.You will not gain optimal aesthetic results from one treatment or even one type of treatments, so it’s important that you map out your plan and journey at the very beginning to know what’s in store and how you will get there.

For example, Botox relaxes muscles to prevent further damage to the skin and allow for minimal healing of already present lines, but it doesn’t address skin laxity, hyperpigmentation or other related concerns. A full assessment will not only inform you of medical procedures that you may not have been aware of but will also explain why you personally would benefit.

It is also important that the comprehensive protocol is based on your individual needs and not a standard, one-size-fits-all protocol used for all patients who walk through the door. Everyone’s body and story is unique, so everyone has unique needs and solutions as well.

Biggest Red Flags

Knowing what you should look for is not always enough. Sometimes, the easiest way to make quick decisions is knowing the most significant red flags that can help you determine which med spas you should actively avoid.

Like with any business, there are plenty of things that could potentially have a negative impact on your experience. These factors could be different from person to person and comfort is the most important thing when it comes to med spas, so always listen to your gut.

That said, here are four general red flags that you should always look out for no matter what your specific needs are.

  1. Stay clear of med spas with a revolving door of practitioners. This reflects negatively on a number of things, possibly including company culture or treatment of employees. This likely means that the practitioners are inexperienced and you may end up developing a relationship with one who won’t stay long.
  2. Avoid med spas with pre-developed protocols. As mentioned, many med spas and weight loss clinics provide these to offer to every patient that walks through the door. This provides substandard care and results, so it is very important that your care and treatments are tailored to you and your needs.
  3. Avoid clinics without certified training. Many of the treatments offered at med spas are considered medical procedures for a reason, and as with any medical procedure, there are risks and possible side effects with varying degrees of severity. If the provider has not had proper certified training, you are at greater risk and may even have lower quality results.
  4. Ask your dermal filler injector about hyaluronidase. This is an enzyme that will dissolve hyaluronic acid, the base of most fillers in the case of an occluded vessel. Every med spa offering dermal fillers should have 4 vials on hand at all times for your safety. Vessel occlusions can lead to tissue necrosis and even blindness, so even if you aren’t specifically looking for dermal fillers as a service, it’s important to know how responsible your med spa is!

If you have any uneasy feelings or suspicions, it may be best to consider other options. That said, you also may be proven wrong, so feel free to ask questions and address these uncertainties upfront. Any responsible physician will welcome these questions and put your mind at ease, so don’t worry about offending anyone or coming across in a negative manner!

In Summary

Med spas are a fantastic way to help restore your confidence and your natural youth and beauty. With a wide range of services to address all sorts of concerns, there are likely some that could really help you live your best your life.

Whether you have skin concerns or want to fight aging, be sure to do your research on local med spas so that you have all of the information before diving in.

To help you know what to look for, be sure to remember:

  • Find a med spa with proper certifications
  • Make sure they have long-term practitioners
  • Avoid med spas with one-size-fits-all protocols
  • Make sure all safety procedures are being properly followed

If you have any additional questions, be sure to reach out either to me or to local med spa in your area to make sure they get answered! What do you think about med spas and how will you seek help from them?


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