Medi Spa 101 - December 2010
By Bernadette Johnson
“The injectable treatments are typically the highest in demand followed by things like laser hair removal and chemical peels,” says Dr. Diane C. Wong, MD, Cosmetic Physician, and Owner, Glow Medi Spa, in Toronto’s Yorkville. “In the U.S. the market for prescription lash lengthening and strengthening is going crazy. It’s huge. It has only been around eight months and I think it’s now the number four [most popular] non-surgical cosmetic treatment. Things like that drive people into a medi spa.”
Glow Medi Spa offers nonsurgical cosmetic enhancement and skin rejuvenation in a spalike atmosphere, but with the regulations of a medical clinic as far as cleanliness, sterilization, etc., says Wong. “I definitely keep the atmosphere very spalike, because clients prefer that type of approach. I know many physicians that have tried blending it with their medical practice, but it’s not ideal for their clients to come in and sit beside someone who has the flu,” she continues. “It’s a very big part of the marketing of medi spas—we’re getting away from that typical medical environment and feel. Customer service is a priority.
But Wong cautions that many businesses are using the term medi spa solely as a sales tool. “The medi spa is supposed to provide medical-grade treatments that are supervised by a medical physician. It’s become a business franchise type of thing — where business owners have no medical background or knowledge but they see a business opportunity and they open up medi spas and use the name as a marketing tool. They have veered away from the mandate of what it was supposed to be.”
Strict guidelines for medical procedures exist in each province, says Wong. In Ontario the guidelines are looked after, endorsed and created by the College of Physicians of Ontario. One of the latter’s biggest mandates, she says, is that the physician should see the patient on at least the initial consultation; the procedures, particularly prescription drug treatments, must be designated to qualified personnel, such as a registered nurse.
“Consumers have to be careful. The risks are huge; there are many potential safety concerns. It’s unfortunate. For instance, there may be a physician name on the clinic, so the consumer thinks there is a physician taking responsibility, when really, often times, it’s a physician by name only,” says Wong. She cites laser procedures (laser hair removal particularly) as an area with little regulation, and little understanding on the part of consumers.
“The laser is a very powerful piece of equipment that can carry high risk—education of the personnel doing the treatment is crucial. We carry one of the highest grade machines in laser hair removal and we have qualified personnel, and some of the public balks at our price. They’re price shopping. And that’s dangerous. Lasers are now everywhere and the public doesn’t understand the difference. IPL and laser hair removal are widelyavailable, but there can be a huge difference in the equipment,” she says.