Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Medical Oversight and Scope of Practice of Medical Spas (Med-Spas)

Gibson, Juliet F., MD; Srivastava, Divya, MD; Nijhawan, Rajiv I., MD*

doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000001719
Original Article

BACKGROUND The regulation of medical spas (med-spas) in the United States varies considerably from state to state with important ramifications for patient safety.

OBJECTIVE To describe the current state of med-spas in the United States and degree of medical oversight in these facilities.

MATERIALS AND METHODS Descriptive study based on web search and standardized phone interviews of med-spas in the most heavily populated cities in each state of the United States. Information obtained included the following: whether medical directors were listed; if so, whether they were advertised as being on site; medical directors' training and board certification; and services offered.

RESULTS Of 247 medical spas reviewed, 72% advertised a medical director on their website, and 6.5% claimed that the director was on site. Of listed medical directors, 41% were trained in dermatology and/or plastic surgery. In phone interviews, 79% of med-spas endorsed the medical director to be board certified, and 52% stated that the medical director was on site less than 50% of the time.

CONCLUSION There is significant variation in medical directorship and oversight among medical spas in the United States. Appropriate regulation of medical directors' training and the degree of oversight provided are warranted to optimize patient safety.

*All authors are affiliated with the Department of Dermatology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Rajiv I. Nijhawan, MD, Department of Dermatology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5939 Harry Hines Boulevard, Suite 400 Dallas, TX 75390-9191, or e-mail:

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the full text and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

J.F. Gibson was awarded an American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) Cutting Edge Research Grant for this study. The authors have indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.

© 2019 by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Inc. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
You currently do not have access to this article

To access this article:

Note: If your society membership provides full-access, you may need to login on your society website