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Shopping for an MD

By: Brian Coughlan
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the May 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

New technologies and measures involving nonsurgical facial cosmetic procedures performed in the spa by physicians and nurses are popping up at every spa industry expo and conference. Physicians in all parts of the country are interested in forming partnerships with local spa owners. There still is much to be learned about what can be expected from this type of relationship.

If a spa decides not to partner with a physician, it could mean competing head-on with medical offices that already have expanded services in order to capture clients who are eager to pay large amounts for anti-aging skin care. More and more doctors are saying “bye-bye” to health insurance hassles, and “hello” to credit cards and cash.

A niche market?

For years, many spas have enjoyed mutually successful referral relationships with physicians, which is beneficial and enough of a partnership in the opinion of some industry professionals. At the Face & Body 2005 Spa & Healthy Aging Conference and Expo, Douglas Preston, of Preston, Inc., presented a strong case for making the spa profession the best it can be without any medical intervention in his class “Here Come the Medical Spas! Can My Day Spa Still Compete?”

Producing figures illustrating that medical spas account for less than 17% of total spa service sales, he called the medical spa a “niche market with an uncertain future.” Preston said that many spa clients have made the facility their escape from the pressures of work and personal life demands. “How many people find lasers or injections relaxing?” he asked. “Do you want people who need serious dermatologic treatments in the waiting room with your spa clients?”

This is a question that many spas currently are grappling with in today’s medical spa-focused industry. See Getting Down to Business for tips on easing your spa into this new area of expertise.

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