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Inclusive Health

By: Howard Murad, MD
Posted: June 2, 2009, from the June 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Moving away from invasive procedures resulted in an increase in the collaboration between specialties, and new systems and protocols that integrated other fields were discovered. The physician’s leading role became diluted and, at the same time, the practice of integrative medicine proved to be incomplete. Fundamentally, integrative medicine could not work. It is flawed because it allows for only some therapies to be included. Integrated modes of treatment were often secondary to, and not as good as, primary medical care. As such, there still remained a great disconnect among health care and spa professionals, as well as the very patients and clients they treated.

What is inclusive health?

To address the across-the-board disconnect, an inclusive system of care had to be introduced to U.S. spas. Now practiced in some medical spa facilities throughout the nation, inclusive health care involves a team of professionals who partner with the patient to achieve long-lasting cosmetic goals and total wellness.

After a thorough examination of a patient’s health—internally, externally and emotionally—a mutually agreed-upon goal is discussed with the patient and a treatment protocol is outlined using input from all medical spa staff members, which could include physicians, lifestyle practitioners, estheticians and body workers, to name a few. Each participant, including the patient, shares an equal responsibility in achieving the common goals. For organization’s sake, inclusive health programs are subdivided into categories, such as external care—facials, skin care, cosmetic surgery; internal care—nutrition, supplements, medication; and emotional care— relaxation spa services, stress-reduction, psychoanalysis, support groups.

Take, for example, a patient with severe acne. In an inclusive health care environment, the treatment would begin with a thorough physical and clinical evaluation including lab tests to reveal lifestyle, nutrition, stress levels, hormonal balance and blood composition. From there,

  • an esthetician might begin enzyme facials and assign a home care regimen to complement in-house procedures;
  • a physician could then address acne-scarring with medical solutions, if needed;
  • a nutritionist could administer a recommended immunity-boosting diet and supplement program to fortify cellular health and healing;
  • a massage therapist could offer body services to reduce stress;
  • a psychiatrist or support group may help with the mentally debilitating aspect of acne and acne-scarring;
  • a makeup artist could offer makeup application tips for covering up blemishes as they heal; and
  • if the acne is related to a medical issue such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and excess weight is an issue, exercise physiology professionals may assist in weight loss goals, while an endocrinologist could prescribe the appropriate care for any concomitant, underlying medical issues.

Scientific study has brought the industry to where it is today, and consumers have pushed it to honor their requests for better and longer-lasting results. As more has been learned about the human body and mind, a full story has begun to appear, but there is still much to discover. A great deal has been learned, down to the body’s miniscule cellular components. What these tiny parts reveal is that everything is connected, from what is felt to what is eaten, lifestyles, sleeping habits … all body parts, including muscles, blood vessels and connective tissue rely on each other; all organs are connected, and all cells work together. Making changes in internal health and emotional composition, in addition to therapeutic esthetics, produces profound results internally and externally.