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 Introduction What is Medical Spa ?

Inside the Medical Spa Association: An Interview With Executive Director 
Hannelore R. Leavy

A medical spa or medspa is a spa-like facility offering non-invasive 
cosmetic medical skin care treatments; it is the ultimate marriage of 
luxury and clinical efficacy. MedSpas are the “medical environment of 
the future”, experiencing the highest growth rate within the multi-billion 
dollar spa industry. 


Spa Today (ST): How would you define "Medical Spa,"
as opposed to simply "Spa," and what does the Medical 
Spa Association hope to accomplish specifically in 
merging the two concepts?
 

The two concepts are separate, but nevertheless related. 
Many treatments applied in a medical spa are also done 
in a day spa, and do not require the presence of a 
physician/healthcare provider. 
Business concerns are similar as well, although a medical spa will 
require a different marketing approach and networking venue. These 
and many other components of a medical spa do not apply to a regular 
day spa; as such, the formation of the MSA was essential to provide the 
medical spa industry with an official body that addresses those needs, 
and a voice to represent that segment of the industry. 

The Medical Spa Association defines a medical spa as a facility whose 
medical program is run under the strict supervision of a licensed health- 
care professional. Services are provided that integrate both traditional 
and nontraditional medicine and spa treatments. 

The Medical Spa Association and its founding members have identified 
four very different types of medical spas: 

Beauty/Skin:
a facility owned by an individual or 
corporate entity with an office/treatment area of a 
licensed health care professional located on the 
premises. Included in the services are medically based 
consultations and treatments provided by the licensed 
health care professional or a medically trained 
aesthetician and therapists. 

Therapeutic: a facility owned by an individual or 
corporate entity with an office/treatment area of a 
licensed health care professional located on the 
premises. The offered services include therapeutic 
modalities that focus on specific medical issues, 
such as cardiovascular disease and bariatrics. 


Medical Centers/Hospital-Based: facilities that 
offer an advanced level of diagnostic services, 
employing conventional and complementary 
therapies delivered in a specially designed 
healing environment. Services include both 
Eastern and Western techniques of evaluation 
and treatment, integrated with a variety of spa 
services. 

Wellness Centers: owned by physicians or 
entrepreneurs - and encompassing many of the same 
services as the medical/hospital facilities if physician-
owned. If privately owned, facilities will have a licensed 
health care professional as the medical director. 

 

Industry participants feel strongly that the medical spa market is 
booming. Is it? 

The Medical Spa & Specialty Hospital Markets report uses interview, 
literature, and survey information to answer that question.
Canadian medical spa development is definitely in high gear,according
to research that was conducted in a January 2004 for this report.

Various facilities provide consumers with high-end anti-aging skin care
consultations and treatments such as Botox injections, microderma-
brasion, laser hair removal, etc. 

Cosmetic surgeons continue to dominate the market, but other medical 
professionals and venues are expanding consumer options. Dentists 
make up one new segment of practitioners, while medical spas and 
specialty hospitals represent environments where clinical expertise is 
combined with a comprehensive mix of personalized services. In the 
Medical Spa & Specialty Hospital Markets report, the role of these 
facilities is analyzed, based on initial research conducted in 2002 and 
follow-up information gathered in mid-2003.


How did this project get started? What was the "birthing point," i.e., why 
the need for a Medical Spa Association in affiliation with the Day Spa 
Association? And why the need to distinguish/qualify "medical spa" 
from "spa"?
 

The original concept of a day spa was intended as an extension of a 
destination spa, i.e., with emphasis on health, rejuvenation, relaxation 
and lifestyle changes - in other words, continuing the healthy lifestyle 
one started on while at a spa vacation, combined with serious skin care. 
However, in the past six or seven years, the day spa concept has 
become that of an extended full-service salon and/or skin-care salon, 
with the emphasis more on beauty and pampering than on therapy, 
prevention, health, etc. 

Adapting to this trend, more serious spas that do want to get away from 
this "pampering" image are now partnering with the medical community. 
I realized that there is a need for a separate body to help them in this 
quest. That is one of the reasons the Day Spa Association, as early as 
1994, set guidelines, Essences of a Day Spa, to educate people on the 
different types of day spas available to them. We did implement an 
accreditation program according to these guidelines, and we are 
planning something similar within the medical spa industry. The spa 
industry also has to realize that the medical community (particularly 
plastic surgeons, cosmetic surgeons, cosmetic dentists, chiropractors, 
and homeopathic and CAM practitioners) are starting to get quite 
interested in the spa concept, although many physicians are merely 
interested in tapping into this lucrative market: non-HMO-related 
treatments patients/clients are willing to pay cash for, require little 
paperwork and produce satisfied consumers. (Dealing with the healthy, 
vibrant and "forever" young-staying public is also a much more 
pleasant prospect, rather than dealing with the "sick.") The medical 
spas are part of this trend. Marketing trends that started with the Baby 
Boomers, including the evolution of the day spas and anti-aging 
treatments, have crossed over to the medical community. 


Types of Health Spas

Day Spa
A facility that offers various professionally administered spa services 
on day-use basis. Services include various spa treatments for beauty, 
wellness and relaxation. 

Destination Spa
A facility that offers overnight lodgings and programmes that can last 
from two or more days. On-site health and wellness programs and 
therapies include exercise, body treatments, stress-relief activities and 
health food to give patrons substantially beneficial lifestyle changes. 
Provides guests with lifestyle improvement and health enhancement 
through professionally administered spa services, physical fitness, 
educational programming and on-site accommodations. Spa cuisine is 
served exclusively. 

Holistic Spa
Offers optional therapeutic approaches and nutrition to reach a higher 
level of well-being in mind and body. 

Medical Spa
Individuals, solo practices, groups and institutions comprised of 
medical and spa professionals whose primary purpose is to provide
comprehensive medical and wellness care in an environment which 
integrates spa services, as well as conventional and complementary 
therapies and treatments. 

Mineral Springs Spa
A health resort that draws on an on-site natural source of mineral, 
seawater or thermal springs for hydrotherapy to treat certain ailments 
or just for relaxation. 

Hotel/Resort Spa
Owned by and located within a resort or hotel providing professionally
administered spa services, fitness and wellness components and spa 
cuisine menu choices. In addition to the leisure guest, this is a great 
place for business travelers who wish to take advantage of the spa 
experience while away from home. 

Fitness/Adventure Spa
A center whose primary objective is fitness, with a selection of sports 
and outdoor adventure programmes like golf, skiing, fly-fishing or 
marathon conditioning. It may also provide the usual variety of spa 
treatments like therapeutic baths and body treatments. 

Club Spa
Facility whose primary purpose is fitness and which offers a variety of
professionally administered spa services on a day-use basis. 

Cruise Ship Spa
A spa aboard a cruise ship providing professionally administered spa 
services, fitness and wellness components and spa cuisine menu choices. 

 


Medical Spa – the New Health Care Standard


As medical and spa worlds collaborate to create new business 
scenarios and better patient care, they are becoming the fastest 
growing health trend. They combine clinical and comfort care in 
medical spa industry. Dermatologists, plastic surgeons, 
ophthalmologists, oralmaxillofacial surgeons, family physicians, 
chiropractors, dentists, medical massage therapists, and many other 
medical specialties are seeking to increase revenue through integration 
of clinical wellness and traditional spa treatments. The inception of the 
medical spa is quickly setting a new standard for success and is 
beginning to push health care in new directions.

The Medical spa concept will develop effective strategies for business
expansion, marketing and partnership opportunities. One model that 
seems to be particularly viable is the forming of strategic alliances 
between physicians, nurses and aestheticians. In a true medical spa, 
a physician supervises all treatments and procedures. Sharing clientele 
through a spa and physician practice generates more profitable 
business all around. 

International Spa Association’s 2000 Spa Industry Study in August 2000,
in 1999 of 5,700 spas in the United States, only 162 were medical spas. 
The medical spas had 1.1 million visits, compared with 63.5 million for 
day spas. The study reports medical spas are among the fastest 
growing spa types. The spa industry’s cumulative increase in number 
of locations from 1995 to 2000 has shown growth in medical spas by 
133% and day spas by 127%.

Dr. Mauro Romita, one of New York City's first medical spas states, 
"Clients come to a medical spa for a more professional level of service. 
Patients are healthy and the procedures are elective. They expect that 
a physician run spa will be very safe, very reputable and will only make 
claims about results that are proven to be true." With insurance 
grievances on the rise, more and more physicians will be turning to 
alternative care -- prevention, wellness and spa services to increase 
the volume of cash based patient procedures.

Universities, medical schools and hospitals like Nations’ Capital Group, 
California Medical Center, Marin General Hospital, and Health First 
Healthplex (Merritt Island) have incorporated the medical spa prospect 
into their programs.

 

Choosing a Health Spa or Medical Spa 

The key to having a great spa experience is to find out as much as you 
can about a spa before you go. This insures that you're time will be well 
spent.

Remember to find out: 
reputation of medical programs 
about guest service 
if you will be able to create a stress free experience 
if the facility is well-maintained and well-staffed 
about available exercise equipment 
if there are health and fitness assessments 
More Questions to ask: 

What programs are available?
stress reduction, yoga, relaxation, fitness, weight management... 

What's on the menu?
vegetarian, calories counted... 

What's included in the price?
lodging, meals, classes, services, treatments... 

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