Want great skin? Sure, who doesn’t. Where do you start? Wondering where to go to get on the right path? A day spa, cosmetic counter, or Medical spa (med spa)… which is the best place for you to give your skin the attention it deserves?

A day spa or cosmetic counter provides a variety of services for the purpose of pampering and relaxation, helping you unwind from stress with massages, manicures, makeovers and facials all done in a tranquil and peaceful setting. Med spas are distinctly different. Some may be as posh as the day spa you visited on your last vacation, while others are more clinical. All med spas strive to combine the best of both worlds — a relaxing experience coupled with beauty enhancements and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures for your face and body. 

Most med spas are under the supervision of a physician, frequently a plastic surgeon or dermatologist. Because a physician oversees treatments, more effective aesthetic procedures can be offered. Treatments are typically performed by a registered nurse or a licensed aesthetician, preferably one with specialized training. A physician directs and oversees all aspects of a med spa, and lends expertise and consultation as needed. Day spas and cosmetic counters do not have a physician onsite, nor as a director or consultant.

The mission of a med spa is to help you achieve healthy skin and improve your appearance. This is done through education and services aimed at protecting, preserving and restoring your body’s largest organ — your skin! Different treatment modalities are used to achieve specific results for each individual’s circumstance. Med spa services include, but are not limited to microdermabrasion, chemical peels, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light), dermaplaning, laser application for removal of: hair, spider veins , and brown spots. Further improvements can be gained from injectables: neurotoxins (Botox, Dysport and Xeomin), fillers (Juvederm, Restalyne, Radiesse, Belotero, Sculptra), and non-surgical fat reduction (Coolsculpting and Kybella). These services provide broad ranges of noninvasive, age defying results for patients with sun damage, acne scarring, unwanted hair, spider veins on the face and legs, brown spots, fine lines and wrinkles. Med spa procedures increase collagen production, reduce redness, and even skin tone while improving the skin’s overall texture. Your skin can feel and look wonderful, and you can feel wonderful about it! 

Providing you with skin care products is also a primary function of a med spa. Skin care products are too numerous to explain in detail in this brief article. Suffice it to say, day spas and cosmetic counters are not permitted by state regulation to sell medical grade products. Their over-the-counter products (cosmeceuticals) smell and feel good, but are only producing results in the most superficial layers of the skin. On the other hand, med spas carry medical grade skin care products (pharmaceuticals) that have concentrated ingredients formulated in specific proportions that penetrate the deepest layers of the skin. Retin-A, salicylic acid, vitamin C, growth factors and hyaluronic acid are just a few of the ingredients that can be found in med spa products. Furthermore, med spa products must deliver on the results they claim to produce as they are tightly regulated and tested. The same scrutiny is not applied to over-the-counter (cosmeceuticals) skin care products. 

A med spa functions to restore, preserve and prevent unnecessary aging to your skin. Aestheticians are agents with specialized training to help you choose the correct skin care regimen, products and procedures to maximize your skin’s health. Consulting with an onsite plastic surgeon further enables an aesthetician to optimize your spa experience. Appropriate referrals and sharing of expertise will provide you with the best blend of surgical and non-surgical treatments.  Remember, your skin is a valuable asset and should be treated as one!

Associates in Plastic Surgery

Dr. Michael Denk, Dr. John Alspaugh & Dr. Jonathan Jacobs

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