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What is a MedSpa?

by | Aug 12, 2022 | Medical Spa

Laser Treatment On Patient'S Chest

Are MedSpas Safe?

All procedures are non-invasive or minimally invasive, and most offer a high degree of safety and effectiveness. However, ‌evaluate the risks and benefits before committing to a treatment.

Below, we will discuss some of the most popular MedSpa services: their use, benefits, and risks.

Botox® and Other Injectable Wrinkle Relaxers

Injectable Wrinkle Relaxers, such as Botox, target the superficial facial muscles responsible for causing wrinkles. 

These injectables prevent muscles from contracting, reducing the appearance and preventing future wrinkle formation.

The most common injectable wrinkle relaxers include: 

  • Botox®
  • Dysport®
  • Jeuveau®
  • Xeomin®

Risks of injectable Wrinkle Relaxers

  • Bruising, swelling, or infection at the injection site
  • Treated areas may droop or become crooked

Body Contouring Techniques: CoolSculpting® and SculptSure® 

These are non-surgical fat reduction techniques to sculpt your body. These involve non-invasive or minimally invasive treatments that help the breakdown of fat under the surface of the skin. 

Popular FDA-approved body sculpting techniques offered at MedSpas may include:

  • Cryolipolysis: It involves using a device to apply extreme cooling to the skin surface, which breaks down underlying fat. 
  • Laser Treatment: It applies heat to the skin surface to break down fat cells
  • Injectables: a naturally occurring substance, deoxycholic acid, is injected into the targeted fat pocket. It is mainly used to reduce the appearance of a double chin.
  • Ultrasound treatment: In the treatment, sonic waves are used to break down fat cells under the skin.

Some well-known non-surgical fat reduction techniques include: 

Body Contouring Risks

Risks for body contouring treatments are uncommon but may occur. Side effects may include:

  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Itching
  • Swelling

Chemical Peels

A chemical peel is a skin resurfacing procedure where a chemical solution is applied to gently remove the outermost, damaged layers of the skin.

Chemical peels can ease various skin concerns, including

  • Precancerous-like growths
  • Wrinkles
  • Fine lines
  • Scars
  • Acne marks
  • Skin discoloration

Chemical peel treatments are entirely customizable based on the needs of each patient.

MedSpas typically offer light, medium, or deep peels, resurfacing the most superficial to the deeper layers of the skin. Treatment results in improved skin tone and texture.

Chemical Peel Risks

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Scarring
  • Burning
  • Infection

Medical Weight Loss: Vitamin B12 and Other Injections

Medical weight loss utilizes a combination of lipotropic injections, medicines, and a proper exercise and diet plan. Lipotropic compounds are nutrients that help break down fat during metabolism.

Lipotropic injections may comprise:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B6
  • L-carnitine
  • Amino acids
  • Inositol

The injections are administered in the common problem areas with excess fat, such as the belly, thighs, arms, and buttocks.

Medical Weight Loss Risks

Infection, swelling, redness, and rash at the site of injection

Laser Skin Resurfacing

A skilled practitioner utilizes a laser device to reduce common skin concerns, such as wrinkles, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, scars, and uneven skin tone. 

There are two types of laser treatments:

  • Ablative: the laser gently removes the top layers of the skin. 
  • Non-ablative: the laser heats the deep underlying tissue to produce new collagen.

Both lasers produce a more youthful appearance by reducing visible signs of aging. However, ablative lasers possess a higher degree of risk and a more lengthy recovery time than non-ablative lasers.

Laser Skin Resurfacing Risks

  • Scarring
  • Skin discoloration
  • Slight burns
  • Swelling
  • Infection

Injectable Dermal Fillers: Bellafill® and Juvederm®

Also called soft tissue fillers or injectable implants, dermal fillers are used to increase volume and correct thin or shallow facial contours.

Dermal fillers are used to:

  • Plump lips
  • Uplift cheekbones and eyelids
  • Treat nasolabial folds 
  • Remove crow’s
  • Smooth wrinkles and frown lines
  • Reconstruct mildly distorted facial features
  • Treat depressed scars

Dermal fillers can be either temporary or permanent based on their chemical components and ability to be absorbed independently.

Types of dermal fillers:

  • Hyaluronic acid: This is a naturally occurring substance found in the body that keeps the skin hydrated and taught. The results are temporary and last 6-12 months.
    Popular brand names include Juvederm®, Restylane®, and Captique®.
  • Autologous fat grafts: Here, fat is removed from another part of the body via liposuction and injected under the skin. This restores volume in the problem area.
    at grafts require surgery and thus can be performed only by a board-certified surgeon.
    Results are long-lasting but require reinjection as fat can get absorbed by the body over time.

  • Calcium hydroxyapatite: A naturally occurring substance used to increase volume to the cheeks and contour the jawline. Results are semi-permanent, lasting 1 to 3 years. 
    It is FDA-approved and biocompatible, with a low potential to cause allergic reactions. Popular brands include Radiesse®.
  • Polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres (PMMA): A synthetic substance that is non-absorbable and permanent. It treats nasolabial folds, fills deep scars, and plumps the lips.
    The most popular PMMA is Bellafill®

  • Polylactic acid: This is a synthetic ‘collagen-stimulator’ that causes your body to produce its own collagen. The dermal filler itself disappears soon after injection, as it is biodegradable.
    It is used to plump lips, treat laugh lines, and restore facial volume loss due to aging. Sculptra® is an FDA-approved polylactic acid filler.
  • Polyalkylimide: A non-absorbable biocompatible volume filler around which a collagen layer is naturally formed after injection. It treats deep wrinkles, scars, and volume loss in the jawline and cheekbones.
    It is sold under the brand name Aquamid®.

Risks of Injectable Dermal Fillers

  • Bruising, swelling, redness, pain at the site of injection
  • Accidental injection into a blood vessel, leading to tissue necrosis or stroke.


Microdermabrasion is an FDA-approved skin rejuvenation procedure that uses a medical device to exfoliate the skin. 

Common types of microdermabrasion include

  • Diamond Glow Microdermabrasion: Top layers of the skin are gently exfoliated using a device with a diamond-mantled tip. This 3-in-1 treatment simultaneously exfoliates, extracts, and infuses the skin with a custom skin-enhancing serum.
  • Crystal Microdermabrasion: Sprays super-fine crystals on the skin, which gently exfoliate the skin. A spraying device then suctioned dead skin cells and crystals off. This procedure stimulates collagen production and blood flow to the skin. 
  • Hydradermabrasion: A three-step process that infuses the skin with hydrating serums after exfoliation.

Microdermabrasion can reduce various common skin concerns, such as

  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Acne and acne scars
  • Large pore size
  • Age spots
  • Melasma
  • Uneven skin texture

The effect of microdermabrasion can be noticed immediately after treatment.

Microdermabrasion Risks

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Tingling sensation at the site of treatment

Who Performs Treatments at Medical Spas?

All treatments are performed under the supervision of a licensed physician. Complex medical procedures are usually performed by the physicians themselves.

Other less complex medical procedures may be administered by experienced nurses, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants.

Non-medical procedures are commonly performed by licensed aestheticians trained in medical aesthetics.

MedSpa vs. Regular Spa

The word ‘Spa’ may cause one to think that a medical spa is a type of day spa you go to for a regular facial. But there are some critical differences between the two.

Operated by:
Licensed physicians
Offers Medical-Grade Cosmetic Procedures:
Require a Medically Sterile Environment:
Offers Invasive Cosmetic Treatments:
Treatments are Performed by:
Physicians or licensed medical professionals under a doctor’s supervision
Hospitalization Required:
Visible high-level results expected
Also known as:
Cosmetic Medical Service, Clinical Spa, Medi Spa, Medical Spa, Med Spa
Covered by Insurance:
Not often
Regular Spa
Operated by:
Physicians not required
Offers Medical-Grade Cosmetic Procedures:
Require a Medically Sterile Environment:
Offers Invasive Cosmetic Treatments:
Treatments are Performed by:
Hospitalization Required:
Drastic results not necessarily visible
Also known as:
Day Spa, Beauty Spa
Covered by Insurance:

MedSpa vs. Plastic Surgery Clinic

A plastic surgery clinic often encounters patients with burns, injuries, damaged tissue, or other illnesses. All procedures are usually provided by a board-certified plastic surgeon.

Treatment at Medical Spas may be provided by a plastic surgeon, physician, nurse, or aesthetician.

The primary difference between the two practices is the invasiveness of cosmetic treatments.

Most treatments at Medical Spas range from non-invasive to minimally invasive. Plastic surgery clinics offer both non-surgical and surgical treatment options.

MedSpa vs. Dermatologist

If you have a skin condition and are deciding if you should go to a MedSpa or a dermatologist, then you need to know the difference between the two.

A dermatologist is a licensed skin doctor who can take your comprehensive health exam, perform a diagnosis, and prescribe medicines.

This is not possible at a Medical Spa unless the treatment you are undergoing is performed by a board-certified physician and your health condition warrants it.

Less complicated procedures at a MedSpa, like facials and peels, can be performed by a trained aesthetician who is not a doctor.

Comparison: MedSpa vs. Plastic Surgery Clinic vs. Dermatology Clinic vs. Regular Spa

Medical Spa
Type of Procedures:
Cosmetic, Non-surgical, Minimally invasive, Non-invasive, Medical-grade
Operated By:
Mostly board-certified physicians
Medicines Prescribed?
Yes, by a licensed doctor
Covered by Insurance:
Not often
Service providers
Physicians, Plastic Surgeons, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Licensed Aestheticians
Plastic Surgery Clinic
Type of Procedures:
Highly complex surgical, Cosmetic, Reconstructive, Minimally invasive, Non-invasive
Operated By:
Highly specialized surgeons
Medicines Prescribed?
Covered by Insurance:
Yes, unless cosmetic
Service providers
Plastic Surgeons, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners
Dermatology Clinic
Type of Procedures:
Moderately complex procedures specific to the skin
Operated By:
Board-certified dermatologists
Medicines Prescribed?
Covered by Insurance:
Yes, unless cosmetic
Service providers
Physicians, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners
Regular Spa
Type of Procedures:
Only cosmetic services that do not require any invasiveness
Operated By:
Medicines Prescribed?
Covered by Insurance:
Service providers

Average Cost of Top MedSpa Treatments

Costs vary depending on the severity of the problem, brand, location, and the experience of the treating physician.

Additional costs may include anesthesia, blood tests, and medication. The number of sessions depends on the severity of the condition or the size of the area being treated.

National Average
Chemical peel
Lipotropic injections
Laser skin resurfacing
Injectable dermal fillers

Are MedSpa Services Covered by Insurance?

Since treatments performed at Medical Spas are cosmetic, insurance does not cover them. However, many Medical Spas offer flexible payment options.

Finding the Best Medical Spa Near You

With so many regular spas masquerading as medical spas, it is vital to know the criteria when choosing the best MedSpa near you.

Most medical spa procedures are medical-grade and could require injections or minor invasiveness. Choosing a medical spa near you that is safe, genuine, and high-quality is essential.

Preferably, choose a medical spa that:

  • Is operated by a board-certified physician
  • Requires a preliminary consultation with an expert provider for a complete evaluation before treatment
  • Has experts explain the risks and benefits of the procedures and understand your expectations
  • Is preferably within or adjacent to the doctor’s clinic or office
  • Is well-staffed with experienced physician assistants, registered nurses, and aestheticians
  • Has aestheticians that are adequately trained in medical aesthetics
  • Is clean, safe, and medically and legally compliant
  • Has an on-site physician full-time
  • Has a relaxing atmosphere with most luxuries offered by a day spa
  • Is preferably operated by a specialist like a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist

Is a Medical License Needed to Own a MedSpa?

The requirements vary state-wise. Most often, the state requires that the medical spa should be operated by a qualified board-certified physician.

However, in some states, non-physicians can own a medical spa, provided it is managed and supervised by a full-time on-site qualified physician.

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Medspa Services Scaled | Medical Spa Beverly Hills

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Dr. Shelia Nazarian, M.D.

Dr Nazarian Spa26 1 | Medical Spa Beverly Hills

Dr. Sheila Nazarian, founder of Spa26 and Nazarian Plastic Surgery, is a board-certified, Beverly Hills plastic surgeon trained in cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery, reconstructive surgery, hand and burns surgery.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most popular medical spa services?

Most popular medical spa services include:

  • Botox® and Other Injectable Wrinkle Relaxers
  • Body contouring using CoolSculpting®, SculptSure®, Kybella®
  • Injectable Dermal Fillers like Restylane®
  • Photo-facial Pulsed Light (IPL)
  • Chemical Peels
  • Skin Tightening
  • Laser Hair Removal
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Microneedling

What is the meaning of MedSpa?

A MedSpa is a spa-like facility that provides non-surgical medical-grade cosmetic procedures under the general supervision of board-certified physicians. Complex procedures are usually carried out by surgeons or licensed doctors. Trained nurses or aestheticians perform less complex treatments.

What is another name for a medical spa?

Medical Spa goes by many names such as MedSpa, Medi Spa, Cosmetic Medical Service, Clinical Spa, Med Spa, or Medical Clinic.

Who can own a MedSpa?

The MedSpa industry is loosely regulated, and the rules vary state-wise. However, most states require that MedSpas be operated by a board-certified physician. Some states allow non-physicians to own a MedSpa, provided its day-to-day operations are supervised by a full-time onsite licensed doctor.

What is an aesthetic treatment?

Aesthetic treatments are non-surgical cosmetic procedures. They can be simple like pedicures or facials, or more complex like Botox® or Kybella®, requiring trained specialists or plastic surgeons. Medical-grade non-surgical treatments are provided under the guidance of a licensed doctor at medical spas.


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