Skincare product selection important to medspas

August 1, 2005

A rapidly growing trend in medical practices is the expansion into ancillary services. The rising costs of operating a medical business have forced physicians to take a look at how they can expand and better serve their patients.

A rapidly growing trend in medical practices is the expansion into ancillary services. The rising costs of operating a medical business have forced physicians to take a look at how they can expand and better serve their patients.

The medical spa concept - also known as a medspa - is here to stay and has been implemented in many practices across the United States. The concept is not new. In Europe, many beautiful health spas have practiced this concept for decades, offering a milieu of services. They employ the expertise of a team of physicians, nurses, estheticians and massage therapists.

According to Jane Crawford, a nationally recognized medical spa consultant and education faculty member for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), "There is a great connection between clients who go to spas and patients who go to plastic surgeons or dermatologists because they are very conscious about their health and appearance. This billion-dollar industry has expanded into the healthcare industry because of its potential to serve an even greater need of patients and clients who require additional expertise to cope with the challenges of an aging body."

Physicians who are considering expanding their practices must know that expansion costs are great and require exhaustive architectural and financial planning. There are many important details to consider. One is the choice of products and services. Retailing is not to be looked upon lightly since it can bring in 40 percent to 45 percent of total revenue.

At best, selection of products is foreign to those who are delving into a medical spa venture for the first time. Sometimes the physician relies on an esthetician or even the medical staff to make product choices. No product or machine should ever be purchased without thorough research and an understanding of the importance of choosing products that are going to enhance your treatment protocols.

Approximately 90 percent of the success of a skin management program relies on patient compliance to a home care regimen.

Considerations, perceptions

First and foremost, the public is easily persuaded into believing what is seen and heard in the daily media. Both pharmaceutical and OTC manufacturers and their customers spend millions of dollars to promote their products. The more money spent, the better the product looks and sells. A savvy eye, however, will look beyond the fanfare and examine what is in the bottle.

True or not, physician endorsement of a product gives the message that it falls into the rank of being better.

Many who create a medical spa concept do not want to sell retail products that can be found down the street in an esthetician's office, day spa or even salon. They want exclusivity and "physician only."

Unless one can service the entire population of a surrounding area, "exclusivity" ultimately can mean isolation and placing energy in the wrong arena. If one truly wants to build an "exclusive" business, then the emphasis should be placed on performing results-oriented treatments with impeccable customer service. A caring, professional staff means repeat business. Education events that share information on how to manage the aging process and the types of services you offer will bring customers.

It absolutely is true that there is a line drawn when it comes to performing more invasive procedures such as very strong peels, laser, injectables and surgery and drug prescriptions. These are physician-only treatments. When it comes to professional skincare products, including numerous treatments, the international esthetics community has produced very viable products with scientifically researched and time-tested ingredients and delivery systems that back up their line.

It is essential that all skincare practitioners be well educated with ingredient chemistry and its relationship with the histological factors involving the skin. They must also be well versed in skin types and conditions, especially in the understanding of how the skin ages. And, they should understand the complexities surrounding the development of a total concept of services, addressing the needs of aging skin, acne, rosacea, pre- and post-surgical care, wound healing, skin peels, machine therapy and other modalities.

One may have the best products and treatments; however, the results are solely dependent upon the expertise and precision of the practitioner. In-service training of new and existing personnel mitigates the possibility of mistakes and provides a thorough understanding of what they are doing. Following protocols is mandatory.

Consider consultants

Past focus on the treatment of disease poses new questions as to how a physician ethically integrates ancillary medical spa services within their current practice.