A Real Medical Spa
Relaxation and legitimate healing is our goal 

If you are in the market for aesthetic treatment, skipping a doctor's office in favor of a a pampering "medi-spa" is tempting. But beware that, although medi-spas are increasingly popular, there is lots of variability. Do your homework first. You should think of yourself as a patient when going for medi-spa services since medical treatments are being dispensed. Anything that affects the structure or the function of the skin qualifies as a medical procedure.  This means the procedures should be performed or supervised by a medical doctor (MD). Every state has different rules on what that supervision means. In medi-spas you can have untrained people doing procedures without proper supervision in unsafe settings. 

The Ugly side of Cut-Rate
Medi-spas can offer low prices on well know treatments like Botox. But, when you know the corners that can be cut, the deals won't seem so good. Allergan, the only maker of FDA-approved Botox sells every vial at the same un-discounted price to all vendors, doctors, and medi-spas. The medi-spa cannot make the Botox cheaper so they can use workers with minimal training and experience. If Botox is not injected properly, it can have major side-effects such as drooping eyelids or eyebrows until the medication wears off weeks later. There is a big difference between a physician-supervised and trained nurse and an inexperienced much less-paid medical assistant (education, supervision, experience, etc). There can be another reason for a "good deal." Allergan sells Botox as a powder that should be reconstituted with 2 cc of sterile water before use. But some medical spas may dilute the Botox by adding more water. Cheap Botox is frequently just expensive water. Generally the medical spa industry is less regulated than the nail salon industry. 

Is there a doctor in the house...?
A physician does not need to be hands on for the procedure but the doctor should be present on location where the procedures take place. The doctor can step in if a problem occurs. This can be critical because no procedure is without risk. For example, microdermabrasion is generally safe but allergic reactions can happen and a physician should be present to treat in case of an issue. While a medi-spa may have a doctor affiliation, that can mean anything from qualified board certified cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon on-site supervising every procedure to a doctor who does not have any specialty in skin care. Sometimes a doctor will lend their name to the establishment for a share of the profits but have no true skin experience. A medi-spa may not be transparent on their supervising doctors - is it an internal medicine doctor, radiologist, primary care doctor, cardiologist, general surgeon?  "Board-certified" alone is not enough. Do you want a board certified proctologist who is not on site to handle your skin complication? Buyer beware, check that you are in the hands of a skin specialist such as a board-certified dermatologist. 

Bottom Line
Don't assume a facility is safe just because it has the word "medi" in it. There are no national standards regulating the medical spa industry. Know that a new facility may have to spend upwards of a million dollars to purchase the appropriate equipment. For example, lasers are expensive and become obsolete quickly. This means medi-spas will be looking to recoup their investment, depending on high volumes of patients. They will be looking to use a patient as an annuity, treating multiple locations on the body, repeatedly.  Some procedures like laser hair removal do require multiple treatments. Botox can last 2-3 months. Be sure to ask what to expect from your procedure, how many treatments will likely be needed, and about the total charges.  At Village Dermatology the cosmetic, injectable, and laser treatments are performed by on-site board certified dermatologists who supervise a trained nurse and a licensed aethetician.