According to the International Medical Spa Association, a medical spa is ‘a facility that operates under the full-time, on-site supervision of a licensed healthcare professional. The facility operates within the scope of practices of its staff, and offers traditional, complementary, and alternative health practices and treatments in a spa-like setting. Practitioners working within a medical spa will be governed by their appropriate licensing board, if licensure is required.’

‘Medical spa’ is a broad term, but the industry offerings can be roughly divided into two distinct business segments: wellness and prevention medical spas, with an emphasis on more conventional medicine married with health and beauty; and medical day spas, which focus more on aesthetic medicine.

Wellness and prevention medical spas

The destination medical spa is usually a very large, high-end establishment, which covers anything from aesthetic medicine to wellness treatments. Well-known names in this category include Canyon Ranch in Arizona, USA, Switzerland’s Clinique La Prairie, and Chiva-Som in Thailand. These places are very serious about their health offering, Clinique La Prairie has a centre of aesthetic medicine and surgery next to a menopause centre, a sleep centre, and weight management centre, as well as a mental health centre.

Medical day spas

Medical day spas are the main focus of this article, and typically designate facilities that combine medical-grade facials and body treatments with more traditional spa-type treatments. For example, a medispa will be able to provide medical grade skin peels and administer prescription-only services such as injectables. Medical day spas, similar to wellness medical spas, are also increasingly growing their alternative health therapy offerings.

EF Medispa in London focuses on inner and outer health: patients can enjoy a combination of non-invasive and invasive treatments and results-oriented services, designed to perfect your body and skin from the inside out, all under the supervision of dedicated medical professionals. S Medical Spa in Thailand follows a philosophy of ‘rejuvenation through integrated health care’. They are a total body rejuvenation centre, from inside (anti-ageing) to outside (beauty).

Fact and figures

The industry remains strong, although it is difficult to find up-to-date figures. According to SRI International, there were 4274 medical spas globally in 2008 grossing approximately $4.6 billion in revenue. SRI found medical spas have a higher average revenue per facility, accounting for 10% of global spa revenues, while only making up 6% of global spa facilities. SpaFinder Wellness, however, estimates that the SRI numbers have risen steadily by at least 20% since then, and place the global number of medical spas at over 5000.

According to the International Spa Association (ISPA), there were 1730 medical spas in 2011 in the US, representing 9% or roughly one-in-ten of all US spas. This marks a huge jump in growth since 2002, when there were only 35 medical spas recognised in the US. The average American medical-spa-goer spends $124 per visit, which is more than any other type of spa (day spa $78) or resort/hotel ($116). Sixteen percent of all US spas now offer medically supervised services. The average revenue per facility is $ 924000 — with approximately 80% coming from procedures and 20% from retail product sales. Also, Marketdata Enterprises, Inc’s., report Medical Spas: A Market Analysis, published in November 2012 claims there are approximately 2100 med spas now operating in the US. The market is forecast to grow by as much as 18% each year.