The Difference Between a Medical Spa and a Day Spa

Many of our visitors ask us what the difference is between a day spa and a medical spa (also known as a medispa or a medi spa). At first glance, they may seem similar, especially if the menu of services appears similar. However, there is a very important difference between a day spa and a medispa. A medical spa is a hybrid between a medical clinic and a day spa that operates under the supervision of a highly trained and specialized medical doctor such as a plastic surgeon. Medical spas can treat conditions on your face and body like brown spots, redness, fine lines and wrinkles, loss of volume and broken capillaries that cannot be treated at all or as effectively by a traditional esthetician.

Medical spa menus vary, but you can usually get treatments like laser skin resurfacing, laser hair removal, IPL (intense pulsed light) treatments, microdermabrasion, photofacials, injectables like BOTOX® and dermal fillers, aggressive chemical peelsliquid facelifts, and skin tightening or skin rejuvenation. One of the advantages of going to a medispa run by a plastic surgeon is that he can tell you if laser skin resurfacing will suffice or if you need something more powerful such as facelift. Another advantage is that you can combine surgical treatments like rhinoplasty and blepharoplasty (eyelid lift) with non-invasive anti-aging treatments.

At one time medical spas tended to have a more clinical atmosphere than day spas. That is far from true today. Most medispas today have designed the atmosphere of the spa and trained the staff at the spa to bring a relaxed, fulfilling experience to the patient. In fact, many medical spas even offer services like massage and body treatments. Some medical spas have a wellness focus and include services like acupuncture, nutritional counseling and naturopathic doctor consultations.

Injectables (such as BOTOX® and tissue fillers), skin treatments (such as laser, intense pulsed light, and radiofrequency) and deep peels should be performed by or under the supervision of a board-certified plastic surgeon who has been trained in the proper way to use the equipment. Ask to see the doctor’s credentials to make sure he has been board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Doctors in other specialties, designating themselves as “cosmetic medicine physicians,” may lack the comprehensive training that is needed for administering drugs and treatments to the deeper levels of the skin and lack the experience necessary to achieve optimal aesthetic results or to manage potential complications. It’s in your best interest to see a physician who specializes in plastic surgery and dermatologic care when seeking cosmetic medical procedures. Ask your medispa if the doctor has been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Simple, Inexpensive Medi Spa Treatments with Fast Results


For people who come to a medical spa seeking to reduce wrinkles, typically, BOTOX® is a wonderful option for patients. BOTOX® effects usually are visible within 3 days, and maximum benefits are reached between 10 to 14 days. Once the muscle relaxes and the skin softens, you will have a more relaxed and youthful appearance. BOTOX® treatments are not a substitute for the results achieved with a facelift. The optimum appearance may be achieved with BOTOX® therapy in conjunction with a facelift, laser resurfacing, and skin rejuvenation.

Chemical Peel

Chemical peels are topically applied acids that aid in the restoration and rejuvenation of the skin’s surface. They create an even and controlled shedding of several layers of the skin. Depending on the type and depth of the peel, few or many layers can be shed allowing new layers to be exposed and creating a fresh new appearance. Chemical peels can enhance your appearance by reducing blotchy and uneven pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, freckling, age spots, sun-damaged skin, and acne scars in a relatively short period of time. Chemical peels stimulate the production of new cells. Most medical spas offer a variety of chemical peels that range from a very light peel to a very deep peel. New peels such as the VI Peel are truly outstanding.


Microdermabrasion is performed at a medispa with a jet of fine crystals, which are propelled and then vacuumed across the skin’s surface, removing the damaged cells to reveal fresh, invigorated skin. Relax while your skin is restored to a more youthful appearance.

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers eliminate wrinkles and other signs of natural aging to give you a more youthful looking face. Dermal fillers do this by adding volume to your face countering the body’s natural loss of volume as we age. Popular dermal fillers at medical spas across the county include Restylane®Juvederm®injectable collagen, Artefill®, Radiesse®, and Sculptra®. Please see our guide to the Cost of Dermal Fillers.

Depending on the licensing requirements of your State, injections at a medical spa and deep peels may be performed by a nurse, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. However, never allow a non-medical, unlicensed person to perform a medical procedure and be sure that the procedure is supervised by a physician board-certified in plastic surgery or dermatology. Your health and safety depend on it.

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