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Shopping for an MD

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

page 4 of 5

Andre Berger, MD, a Beverly Hills, California, physician and the owner of Rejuvalife Vitality Institute, shares Chang’s emphasis on holistic and wellness medicine, as well as her suspicion that some doctors are looking to spas only as additional revenue streams. He believes that this can mean a lack of sufficient supervision due to definitions of supervision requirements that vary from state to state. For example, a medical spa could have a physician lend his name to the business without actively being involved with it. This possibly could lead to serious liability problems for the physician and the spa.

Whatever the business model—whether it be an independent contractor or a corporation created for the new venture—Berger maintains that spa owners should align themselves with a physician who truly will be involved. The doctor should provide guidance to ensure that the new medical spa services will be in accordance with all of the legal and regulatory conditions mandated by the state in which the facility is located.

Florida spa owner Sanda Gane advises, “Learn all you can about the laws in your state governing this type of arrangement.” But because this convergence between licensed medical doctors and licensed cosmetologists and estheticians is so new, Gane is finding her time drained away by speaking with regulatory officials and searching Web sites that don’t yield answers that are dependable enough on which to base business decisions. To seek this information, start by logging on to www.SkinInc.com for a complete list of each state cosmetology board’s contact information.

The big wave

These obstacles haven’t deterred Gane, owner of day spas in Jupiter and Wellington, Florida, as well as a future location in Marietta, Georgia, that will have two rooms and a waiting area designated exclusively for medical procedures. The plastic surgeon who serves as medical director for the Florida spas pays Gane’s rent when he is in the facility to perform such procedures as injectable fillers.

With what she has learned, Gane believes that setting up a management corporation probably will turn out to be the best business model financially and legally. It will make some of the confusing loose ends go away and ensure that her spas will receive a better share of the total income.