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The Inclusive Medical Spa

By: Howard Murad, MD
Posted: February 25, 2009, from the March 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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The next trend is sleep reform. The effects of sleep deprivation are only now coming to light, and more medical and spa services are going to address the issue and its underlying causes. Expect to see topical or oral agents, including botanicals such as chamomile, valerian and lavender, and hormones such as melatonin, in addition to an increase in the use of prescription sleep aids.

Partnering between estheticians and physicians yields great results, but they are only as good as the client’s commitment level; therefore, programs that do not consider client commitment will fade. Today’s medical spas offer proven holistic or alternative therapies, such as massage and body treatments, but they largely have a no-fluff attitude. This will only continue because fewer and fewer people are gong to a spa just to get a moisturizer. Clients want to indulge, feel good and leave with real results—they want to be radiant and beautiful. For example, simple nail manicures are out. What’s in are manicures that include hand treatments, massage and specific solutions for problem nails and skin. Single treatments are out, and in their place, custom-designed service packages have become the norm. This custom-packaging trend has only increased, and will help form the core of the future of medical spas—inclusive health programs.

Inclusive health programs

The creation of inclusive health programs stems from the history of health care itself. In the beginning, patients simply went to the physician for medical care or traditional medicine. Because of dissatisfaction with the results or incomplete care, many individuals, desperate for something different, dabbled in alternative medicine in place of conventional medicine. There were also those who used complementary medicine—therapies used together with conventional medicine. As a result of the integration of outside practices, the term “integrative medicine” surfaced. But the practice of integrative medicine is not complete. Although it allows some therapies to be included, these treatment modalities are often secondary and not as good as primary medical care. On the whole, the current level of health care is disconnected from the very patients it is used to treat.

Inclusive health programs represent the next logical step in the sequence of today’s medical and esthetic care. They include all therapies and are based on a patient’s specific needs. They offer a multidisciplinary approach that is comprehensive and all-encompassing. Inclusive health therapies work in tandem to create the most complete health care programs for overall wellness and cosmetic concerns.

They do this using a three-pillar approach that addresses the mind, skin and body through a systematic protocol that includes programs that focus on external, internal and emotional concerns. To summarize, a medical spa could design its own inclusive programs by using the following three-pronged formula: