By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Spa and medical spa: what’s the difference?
At many salons and spas, clients can receive seemingly similar and overlapping services.
Guillermo Quetell is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in practice in East Syracuse. His office provides surgical and non-surgical services for improving appearance.
Quetell said that care at a medical spa is physician-led, unlike at a spa where clients simply ask for the services they prefer. Instead, medical spas engage patients in discussing medical options for the issues they’re facing.
“It’s a medical plan directed by a medical doctor and agreed upon and documented,” Quetell said. “It is a medical record.”
Patients discuss their issue and develop a plan with the doctor, Quetell said.
At medical spas, many of the procedures are more invasive in nature and are performed by or overseen by a medical doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner. Any elective services they provide are generally not covered by health insurance.
Many medical spas, like Quetell’s, function as an extension of a plastic surgery office or sometimes a dermatologic office. State law doesn’t specify the specialty; however, a physician or physician extender must oversee the medical spa’s more advanced and invasive procedures.
In addition to the procedures, the products offered at a medical spa are medical grade in nature, with an emphasis on quality of life. The services at Quetell’s office include laser skin resurfacing, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, chemical and micro peels, photo facials, Botox injections, tattoo removal, Retin-A treatments, and collagen injections.
In addition to the procedures, the products offered at a medical spa are medical grade in nature.
At CNY Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery in East Syracuse, co-owners and board-certified plastic surgeons Gregory Baum and Anthony Deboni perform reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries, and provide medical spa services, ranging from Botox to fillers to liposuction.
“We’re the ones that should be doing medical spa services,” Deboni said of plastic surgeons. “There’s no regulation that determines what something is called. Anyone can call themselves a ‘cosmetic doctor.’ There’s no certification for that.”
Deboni’s office also offers laser nail fungus treatment, vaginal rejuvenation, laser hair removal and waxing, non-invasive fat reduction, vein treatments, platelet rich plasma hair restoration, and skin rejuvenation.
The medically based procedures at MedSpa Solutions in Syracuse are overseen by physicians Norma Cooney and Derek Cooney, both board-certified in emergency medicine, augmented by the dental aesthetic and peri-oral rejuvenation services of general dentist Dorothy Kassab.
While many medical spas focus only on skin care, MedSpa offers cosmetic dental services as well.
“You can do many things to beautify the face, but if you don’t correct the teeth — overbite, discoloration and misalignment — you won’t get the result you’re seeking,” Norma Cooney said. “It can take a decade off a patient. It makes a world of difference.”
As with other medical spas, MedSpa Solutions’ physician oversight ensures treatment are safe and effective.
“As physicians, we know the anatomy and patho-physiology of the medication,” Norma Cooney said. “We have insight to what’s occurring, the procedures, the benefit and any side effects that may occur. We can recognize and treat and ensure a good outcome.”
The physicians lead patient care to provide the most effective solutions.
“We offer comprehensive care and the supervision of physicians through the entire process,” Kassab said. “The multi-disciplinary approach works systemically from the inside out with infusion therapy.”
Other services include infusion therapy, massage therapy, non-surgical facelift, skincare with hydro-facials, micro-needling with and without plasma rich platelets, massage therapy and Botox injections.
Rejuvn8 in Liverpool leans toward holistic wellness, offering both spa services and more invasive medical spa services through registered nurses, a nurse practitioner and medical doctor.
“We are interested in the person as a whole, not specific to just skin,” said Giovanna McCarthy, owner and lead aesthetician. “We’re not just specific to skin. We’re working to become a wellness spa, more than a medical spa.”
New offerings at Rejuvn8 are leading in that direction, including weight loss, hormone therapy and IV therapy. The facility also provides Botox injections, fillers, Sculpta, hydro-facial, microdermabrasion and fat melting with BTL products.
“We refer and collaborate with a plastic surgeon’s office,” McCarthy said. “We’re not looking to doing anything we’re not good at. When clients come in, we won’t promise them results they can’t get with non-surgical procedures.”
Though not medical spas, for their lack of medical doctors and invasive techniques, wellness spas provide services atypical of day spas and have personnel with some degree of therapeutic or medical training.
Melinda “Mindy” Myers, licensed massage therapist, recently opened Precision Healing in Oswego. She offers therapeutic massage, including prenatal, sports, trigger point, deep tissue, oncology massage and more, along with reiki, reflexology, craniosacral work, sauna and essential oils.
A standard massage business focuses on relaxation. Myers said that Precision Healing is all about “the functional outcome. The relaxation massage is based on the client’s satisfaction. The lighting, music and things like that play into it. Medical massage can be in different settings. It’s more based upon a goal.”
Desired outcomes can include reducing pain, improving muscle tone, increasing range of motion and greater ability to sleep.
Clients also receive “homework” such as heating, stretches and other at-home maintenance.
In a similar vein, Integrative Healing Spa in Oswego, owned by licensed massage therapist and reiki master Amber Gilbo, offers massage therapy that focuses on sports recuperation, prenatal, deep tissue, trigger point, and other types of therapeutic massage. But the facility also has aestheticians providing facials, waxing and body treatments “for someone who wants to spend the day and have a whole spa experience,” Gilbo said.