An Insider’s Guide to Medical Spas

Medical SpasI originally wrote this post a few years ago about the Las Vegas Medical Spa I worked at, and I’m putting it back on my blog’s front page since the information is still relevant today. Since I wrote this, the Medical Spa I worked at went out of business, and the entire company folded – I think it was partly due to the bad economy, but mostly because the business was being run so poorly. 

I have only worked at one Medical Spa, so I obviously don’t know how all Medical Spas are run, but I am sure they are all similar in a lot of ways. I am mostly basing my information on my actual Medical Spa, and how it is run. For a variety of reasons, I recently quit my job at the Medical Spa, although once my free Botox wears off, I’m sure I’ll be in search of a new Med Spa job! The Medical Spa I worked for owns a chain of spas throughout the country, and the environment is very retail oriented. I will write separate posts about specific treatments, but for now, here are some tips to keep in mind before you purchase treatments from a Medical Spa:

The purpose of a Medical Spa is to make money
Like any retail business, sales and the bottom line are the number one priority for a Medical Spa. Medical Spas want to sell you services and products. While many Dermatologists offer a lot of the same services, I have never had any Dermatologist office push their various services on me. I don’t know if they just don’t need the money or just don’t care, but I’ve always found this odd.

Many Medical Spa workers are paid on commission
Whether it’s a straight percentage of sales, or bonuses on selling specific treatments, it’s in the spa associate’s best interest to sell you something! If you are unfamiliar with the services being offered to you, go home and research them before committing to purchasing treatments. You want to be informed about what you’re really getting. Many Medical Spa associates are very helpful and honest (well I’d like to think I was), but a lot of associates also have a vested interest in selling you something, even if it’s not a service from which you could greatly benefit.

Prices are negotiable
While there may be “suggested” prices for various treatments, those prices are not set in stone. Certain treatments have a built-in cost to them (Botox and Restylane, for example, are not cheap to purchase from the manufacturer) so the markup on the actual product is maybe only 30%. Other treatments, like LipoSolution, have a very high markup value since the product itself is extremely inexpensive to purchase. Each Laser Hair Removal treatment or Photo Facial costs the Med Spa nothing, but of couse what you are paying for is the the lease on the $100k laser machine, the technician’s salary, and the costs of keeping the spa up and running.

Given this information, know that you can probably get a discount on most services, and my particular spa has given up to 60% off on most treatments, especially the ones that have high markup value. If the spa doesn’t want to haggle much on the price, ask for extra free services like a Microdermabrasion package if you purchase a Laser Hair Removal package. If you can’t get a good deal on a particular day, wait a week or a month. There are always new specials going on. Also, try going to the spa towards the end of the month to see if suddenly you can get a better deal. Like a car salesman with a quota, spas also have quotas, and if it’s a slow month, you could get a really good deal!

The Medical Spa may be here today and gone tomorrow
I’ve had customers come into my store. and after hearing about the prices of treatments, say “Ohhhh, I should open a Medical Spa and I’ll be so rich.” What they don’t know is that there are many fly-by-night spas out there, because like most businesses, it’s hard to make money and stay in business! The spa I worked for had bought out a previous company that went bankrupt, and that company had taken over another company before that! All within 3 years! Luckily my spa still honored the packages the customers of the previous spa bought, even though legally they didn’t have to. So before buying a long-term package (like a year’s worth of Laser Hair Removal), research the company and ask how long it’s been in business, and check its rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Get a money-back guarantee in writing
My spa doesn’t offer refunds. If I was purchasing a $7k full-body hair removal package, I would be more than a little nervous paying that kind of money, with no sort of guarantee or refund policy. First, I would make the purchase on my credit card, because at least you have some protection if the spa goes out of business tomorrow, or if something terrible happens and you need to charge back the purchase. If possible, I would also make monthly payments to the spa, rather than pay in one lump sum, because you won’t be out of as much money if something bad does happen. However, I would also try to find a spa that guarantees their work – if you aren’t happy, you don’t have to pay. If you don’t see the results you were promised, then you should either get another treatment for free, or a refund. Shop around for a spa that offers a guarantee, and get this in writing!

The Estheticians working on you may have a week of training
Where I live, in the state of Nevada, to run a laser machine, you only need to be a licensed Esthetician, and to inject Botox you only need to be a Medical Assistant. In other states, like California, you must be a nurse to perform either of these services. While many Estheticians are highly skilled and have been performing treatments for years, others might be right out of school, and as far as I know, Estheticians are not even taught Laser Hair Removal in school, nor are Medical Assistants taught Botox or Restylane injections. At my spa, Estheticians sometimes have only a week of training before they are performing all their own treatments. While this maybe normally be fine, know that Lasers have the potential to severely burn you. Ask how long the Esthetican has been doing treatments, and don’t hesitate to ask to be treated by the Esthetician with the most experience. When you are getting Botox or Restylane, you also want an injector with A LOT of experience. Even though dentists or various doctors can inject Botox, you still want to go with someone that has been doing it a while, rather than someone who took a weekend course and has no actual experience injecting. I’ll expand on this more in a separate post.

Also note that while Medical Spas must be under the direction of a doctor, that doesn’t mean there’s one on site. In my year at the Medical Spa, nothing bad really happened, so accidents are not that common, but consider whether or not you’d feel safer knowing there’s a doctor there at all times in case something does go wrong.

Check with your insurance to see if they will cover any treatments
While most treatments at a Medical Spa are solely cosmetic, a few treatments could possibly be covered by insurance. I know Botox for sweating is sometimes covered by insurance. Check with your insurance to see if you can send in a claim, or you may want to go straight to a Dermatologist to get it done there. Medical Spas don’t normally accept insurance. A lot of acne treatments can also be covered by insurance, so check on that too.

Some Medical Spas are better than others
Shop around to several Medical Spas before picking one. Ask questions, check out how clean the place is, see how friendly and knowledgeable the staff is, ask how soon you can get an appointment, and then of course research the spa as best you can. Even though I harped on getting great deals, you also get what you pay for, so if someone is practically giving away Botox or other treatments, that could signify a problem. It’s not cheap to run a Medical Spa, so you will definitely need to pay a lot more than $99 to get Botox, or $50 per session to get a Laser Hair Treatment. I’ll go over individual prices and treatments in the future.

If you’ve had any treatments done at a Medical Spa, feel free to share your experience!

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7 Responses to “An Insider’s Guide to Medical Spas”

  1. Curtus Says:

    Hi Jeni,

    I’m curious what percentage of men come into a medical spa, and what are their most requested treatments? Do you see a particular age group or particular professions? Do many men work at these spa’s? Thanks!


  2. admin Says:

    Hi Curtus!
    I would say at the spa I worked at, 15% of the customers were men. Most of them were either getting Laser Hair Removal on their face, chest, or back, or acne laser treatments for acne, or chemical peels for acne or sun damage. And we had some men come in for Microdermabrasion and LipoSolution as well. Oh and Botox. The men ranged from 16-55 or so. There are some men that work at Medical Spas, but none worked at any of the Vegas locations where I worked. Since most customers are women, they feel more comfortable with women doing their treatments, and men have no problem with women helping them either!

  3. Maria Says:

    Dear Jeni
    I am looking for some good treatments for myself. Which treatments really do work? I am looking into Photo Facial, Parafango, photo hair removal. Did you have them in your spa? If yes, do they work? Thank you!!

  4. Christine Says:

    Hi Jeni,

    I really like to get a job in medical spa. I was just wondering how did you get yours? Do I need to do any course before I can get a job in medical spa?

  5. Rose Says:

    I’ve never heard of medical spa. Well at least I now know what it is and that the prices are negotiable.

  6. Tara Says:

    When the recession hit I noticed a lot of the medspas closing down around me. I hope that the ones that are left were able to withstand the downturn because they are better. I want to get Botox soon and want to make sure I go to a good place.

  7. carrie Says:

    I have an aunt that works at a similar type of spa, mainly for the free botox ;)
    She seems to really like the job though

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