When we think of spa treatments, we typically think of a rejuvenating facial, perhaps a therapeutic body wrap, and of course a relaxing massage. But does massage have a place in a medical spa setting?
“Massage can improve lymph flow and help remove toxins from the body, as well as ease congestion, reduce swelling and relieve fatigue and stress.” —Janel Luu, CEO of Le Mieux Cosmetics
According to a report by the American Massage Therapy Association, more than 51 million American adults had discussed massage therapy with their doctors or health care providers in 2016. Additionally, 63% of respondents’ providers referred them to a massage therapist or strongly recommended massage therapy.
Connect on an Emotional Level
As the medical field embraces the power of massage, so too should med spas, according Brian Goodwin, master esthetician, consultant and international educator for Eminence Organic Skin Care.
“Massage in a medical spa setting offers a fantastic opportunity to differentiate yourself from other medical spas in the industry,” he said. “By including or offering massage as an upgrade to a client receiving more med spa geared services, you will have an advantage over most medical spas in the market by connecting with the client on an emotional level.”
Goodwin explained that if clients have an emotional connection, they are more prone to advocate for the business and are more likely to rebook services, recommend the med spa to a friend and purchase retail products.
“Traditionally, medical spas struggle to connect with clients on an emotional level because the appointments are often treated as doctor’s visits versus luxurious spa treatments where personal relationships are built,” he continued. “Massage offers a unique opportunity to bypass this barrier and connect.”
Massage and Your Patients
Massage can improve lymph flow and help remove toxins from the body, as well as ease congestion, reduce swelling and relieve fatigue and stress, according to Janel Luu, CEO of Le Mieux Cosmetics.
“The biggest impact of massage after procedures is that swelling goes down faster and healing occurs faster,” she said. “In South Korea, which is known as the plastic surgery capital of the world, they used to do only the medical procedure, but they found that by adding massage, it accelerated the healing process. Now, Korean plastic surgeons require each patient to come in not just for the procedure itself, but also to schedule facial massage afterward to accelerate recovery and maintain results.”
Meridian massage, also known as acupoint massage, incorporates rolling movements along the meridian lines of the face, jawline and neck. It can help increase blood circulation, clear stagnant blood flow and ease chronic inflammation as well as smooth fascia, which, in turn, helps to smooth wrinkles. Slight pinching movements along the brow and certain meridian lines can help lift the contours of the eye area, similar to a mini eye lift.
Massage also stimulates the release of oxytocin, known as the “feel good hormone,” which reduces stress levels. This hormone also mediates skin cell growth and reduces inflammatory and oxidative stress that can lead to signs of aging, noted Luu.
“By including massage, you will have an advantage over most medical spas in the market by connecting with the client on an emotional level.” —Brian Goodwin, international educator, Eminence Organic Skin Care
Because of the number of massage techniques, massage is a reasonable treatment additive for almost anyone. Some spas have begun to include massage as standard practice when a patient receives certain treatments, while others offer massage as an add-on.
“If the client has had filler or injectables and has pain or swelling at the injection site, offering the client manual lymphatic drainage can help to alleviate swelling, inflammation and decrease healing time,” said Goodwin. “For clients that have received face lifts or other forms of mini-lifts, to tighten specific areas of the face, advanced Hungarian massage techniques can help to release scar tissue and prevent unwanted contraction of the skin that gives an unnatural appearance.”
Goodwin added that massage can help break down fibrous scar tissue as well as stimulate fibroblast cells to produce new, healthy collagen and elastin, which can help speed recovery and boost results.
“There are also guests that would prefer less invasive treatments and, in this case, medical spas can offer a face-lift massage using the same Hungarian massage techniques to give a temporary overall lifted appearance,” he said. “This offers incredible results without the downtime, pain and other potential side effects more invasive treatments cause.”
Like most things in life, timing is everything, and this holds true for offering massage services to medical spa patients as well. It is recommended to wait three days after receiving injectables like Botox before administering facial massage to prevent the product from moving around before it’s had a chance to be absorbed. For IPL or fillers, like Juvéderm or Restylane, Luu recommends waiting one to two weeks before massage is applied.
“After ablative procedures, clients must go through the healing process before massage is performed,” said Luu. “After any intense inflammation, the face must have time to recover before being massaged, but you can apply certain products to alleviate the burning or irritation.”
“After any intense inflammation, the face must have time to recover before being massaged, but you can apply certain products to alleviate the burning or irritation.” —Janel Luu
Additionally, Goodwin cautions against massaging patients receiving treatments for open, active acne as some techniques could irritate or re-open blemishes that are in the process of healing. For acneic skin, he recommended manual lymphatic drainage as this technique involves light pressure to stimulate the immune system and decrease inflammation, but not enough to counteract treatments.
“The other category medical spas should be careful with are patients that are undergoing cancer treatments,” Goodwin said. “Unless you specifically are trained and certified in oncology esthetics, performing manual lymphatic drainage or other massage techniques can be contraindicated, and the patient should discuss receiving treatments with their doctor first as it’s really up to their physician to determine if they are an appropriate candidate for your service.”