Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.
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19 SHUTTERSTOCK W hether you want to brighten up your complexion or ward off wrinkles, maintaining a youthful glow can become more challenging when you're not so youthful anymore. Beauty spa treatments like facials and other skincare services can help. But a medical spa, or "medispa," may have something more to offer for faster and more definitive results. "A medispa offers skincare services that are affiliated with a physician's practice," says Dr. Sean Bidic, a board certified plastic surgeon affiliated with Inspira Medical Center Vineland in Vineland, N.J., who owns the ASA Skincare medispa. Medispa regulations vary by state. In New Jersey, for example, only a physician can provide some services, such as laser hair removal and skin resurfacing. But in other states, such as Texas, the rules aren't as strict. In any event, medispas are a growing business: The American Academy of Dermatology Association forecasts that medical aesthetic procedures will reach $4 billion globally in 2017. MORE INTENSIVE THERAPIES Because medispas involve physician supervision, they typically offer a wider range of skincare services compared with a regular day spa—from Botox, dermal fillers and acid-based peels to laser hair removal and resurfacing, photofacials using light-based technology, and permanent makeup, such as tattooing for eyebrows and breast cancer reconstruction. The therapies at a medispa may be stronger too. Take a chemical peel to improve your skin's appearance, for example. "Most non-medispas won't use a fruit acid concentration [in the chemical peel] over 5 percent. But if someone wants more dramatic results, we can go up to 20 percent," explains Dr. Bidic. The medical personnel at medispas can also evaluate skin concerns, such as a changing mole, dark pigmentation or rosacea, which is a common skin disease. PERSONALIZED TREATMENTS In addition, medispas may offer their own proprietary, pharmaceutical- grade skincare regimen of products in various concentrations, based on your skin type. Depending on the season, products in your skincare lineup may be added or taken away as needed. The strength of your therapy will be fine-tuned too, based on your results. "In our medispa, you will get evaluated by an aesthetician [skincare treatment specialist] every three to six months," Dr. Bidic says. THE PRICE OF BEAUTY Aside from nipple tattooing for breast cancer reconstruction, most medispa services aren't covered by health insurance, although many medispas offer a free initial skincare evaluation. After that, you can expect to pay $250 to $500 to start, then $500 to $1,000 annually to maintain your skincare regimen. "Visiting a medispa is an investment in your face, which is how you interact with the world," says Dr. Bidic. • FINDING THE RIGHT MEDISPA All medispas are not alike. Before making your first appointment or having a specific treatment, do your homework by asking a few questions: • Is this medispa supervised by a physician? "Yes" is the answer you want. Before any treatment, you should have a face-to-face consultation with a doctor, a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant to make sure you're an appropriate candidate for the procedure and to verify your treatment plan. According to the American Med Spa Association, you should also make sure that any procedure performed with needles or a scalpel is done by someone who is at least a registered nurse. • What kind of physician supervises the practice? You can find medispas operated by a variety of physicians, including dentists, primary care physicians and even specialists such as obstetrician/gynecologists or pediatricians. "Look for a medispa operated by a physician with skincare training, such as a dermatologist, facial plastic surgeon or plastic surgeon," advises Dr. Sean Bidic at Inspira Medical Center Vineland in Vineland, N.J. • Can you show me before/after photos? When you're considering a particular procedure, ask medispa personnel if you can look at before and after photos of their actual patients who've had the treatment. "Patient photos can show you that the medispa has experience and evidence of the therapies they're suggesting," Dr. Bidic says. How can you be sure they're not showing you stock photography? Just ask: "Are these your patients?" he says. A medispa offers skincare services that are affiliated with a physician's practice. " " ~ Dr. Sean Bidic, Inspira Medical Center Vineland