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Medical Spa Management

By: Joy Thompson
Posted: June 25, 2008, from the January 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Deciding which, if any, nonmedical services—such as massage—would further complement a client’s feeling of wellness also is the responsibility of the spa manager. She should handle day-to-day business operations, such as bookkeeping, ordering nonmedical supplies, and dealing with landlord and space issues. One area of overlap between the two positions is the procurement of medical technology. The two parties need to balance the cost versus the reputation of each piece of equipment considered for the facility.

Keeping up

With the groundwork of financing, identifying target clientele, establishing procedures and filling staffing needs firmly in place, there are several aspects of ongoing management of which the spa owner needs to be aware. Although medical equipment for cosmetic procedures has evolved to produce healthier, better-looking skin at a reduced price, new technologies are on the horizon that will be smaller and more affordable, freeing up space and funds. In addition, just as technology has advanced to bring IPL and laser hair removal into the spa environment, new innovations may enable the delivery of other services that currently cannot be offered in this setting.

Spa owners also need to be aware of several legal and regulatory issues that involve all levels of government. Each treatment in the practice has to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or appropriate governing body. However, this is just the beginning of the bureaucracy that encompasses medical boards, nursing boards, cosmetology boards and boards of health. Further complicating matters is the fact that regulations for administration of these types of procedures vary widely from county to county and state to state. Although a responsible medical director will be familiar with these laws, all members of management should be cognizant of the specific regulations for the region in which they operate. (Editor’s note: The contact information for the licensing boards of all 50 states can be found on

Also, it is imperative to monitor state and federal legislation for bill proposals that will affect your medical spa. For instance, the Massachusetts state Senate currently is deliberating a bill that would place restrictions on how minimally invasive procedures can be delivered, as well as on whom. If this legislation is approved, medical spas would have to be prepared to change their business practices accordingly in a short period of time. A quarterly audit of medical reports will ensure that the medical spa is working within the parameters of the applicable boards. This information can be found by contacting those boards in your state. Moreover, the medical director and spa manager must anticipate potential crises and have a specific plan of action for each scenario.

Client concerns

Of course, day-to-day client-relation issues will dominate management, because that is what sets a medical spa apart from a traditional medical practice. This encompasses common client concerns and how team members deal with them. For example, if a client complains that she should receive a discount but cannot produce a coupon, is it worth it to approve the price break in the hopes that the individual will become a repeat client? Do you feel comfortable giving your employees the autonomy to make these kinds of judgment calls? If your team members demonstrate solid problem-solving and people skills, it may be worthwhile to grant them that leeway.