Medispas: Improving the health and beauty of your skin

Medispas have become very popular over the past several years. Women, primarily between the ages of 45 and 65, have begun to turn to medispas to erase the signs of aging, repair sun-damaged skin, minimize scars, get a facial or have procedures that improve the health and beauty of their skin.


The American Med Spa Association defines a medical spa as a “hybrid between an aesthetic medical center and a day spa” with four core elements: (1) the provision of noninvasive (i.e., nonsurgical) aesthetic medical services; (2) under the general supervision of a licensed physician; (3) performed by trained, experienced and qualified practitioners; (4) with on-site supervision by a licensed health care professional.


We spoke with the owners of four medispas in Rochester—Anew Medspa Clinic, Essence Skin Clinic, Posh Facial Esthetics and Med Spa and Slow Coast Spa—to find out about the services they provide and to understand why people come to their clinics for treatments. We also wanted to learn more about the owners’ backgrounds, how they chose this line of work and what differentiates them.


Dr. Vicky Hagstrom, founder, chief medical officer and president of Anew Medspa Clinic, says the difference between a spa and a medispa is the level of services. She explains, a medispa has “medical-grade services and a medical focus, including injections and high-powered lasers.”

A longtime resident of Rochester, Dr. Hagstrom attended Mayo Medical School in the 90s and practiced family medicine at Olmsted Medical Center for several years. Dr. Hagstrom opened Anew Medspa Clinic 10 years ago. She opened the original clinic in downtown Minneapolis and relocated the clinic to Minnetonka five years ago. Four years ago, she opened Anew Medspa Clinic satellite clinic in Rochester.

Dr. Hagstrom provides direct patient care, full-time. In the Rochester clinic, she is the sole provider for injections and laser services.

“The most cutting-edge techniques and products I use are Bellafill®,” shares Dr. Hagstrom. “It’s most cutting-edge because it’s long-lasting and provides a stimulus for collagen production in the deep layers of tissue.”

Anew offers traditional neurotoxins, like Botox® and Dysport®. They also provide a full-spectrum laser platform for skin rejuvenation including fractionated laser resurfacing, “which is the most powerful, most results-oriented procedure we have for tightening the skin’s surface,” adds Dr. Hagstrom.

Anew also offers the HALO procedure, which is a very innovative technology, currently available only at Anew’s Minnetonka location. Dr. Hagstrom explains, “It is the most expeditious way to polish the surface of the skin with laser techniques. Most of my patients are women between the ages of 45 and 65. My signature, nonsurgical face-lifting and facial restoration approach is to use Bellafill for the short and long-term effects and facial contouring, and facial polishing with the HALO laser which provides the best results with the least amount of distress. Recovery time is very short.”

Dr. Hagstrom says her patients range in age from teens to 90s for skin-related issues. She adds, “Some people have a single problem they want fixed, and others just want things improved.”

“I really enjoy the tools I get to use and the artistry I get to do,” Dr. Hagstrom says. “I also enjoy the satisfaction I get from changing somebody’s life because it really is that deep. It’s not a vanity thing. Our outside really is relevant to how we feel about ourselves in general, which is why we do things like buy nice clothes and style our hair and get mani-pedis. This is just another extension of self-care.”


Jennifer Sanneman, of Essence Skin Clinic, says, “I’ve been in the skin-care industry for almost 30 years. We were the first skin-care company to exist in Rochester. I think our education, knowledge and experience is above anything else. We are truly a laser clinic because we have 12 different lasers in our clinic. Plus, Allergan has rated us in the top six percent in the nation over 25,000 clinics, as injectionists.”

“I always wanted to be in the beauty industry,” Sanneman explains, “and I took prerequisites to go to med school because I wanted to be a dermatologist. After having children, I had to stop the education because I was driving back and forth to the University of Minnesota, and it was too much.”

Eventually, Sanneman went to cosmetology school and opened a makeup and cosmetic salon in Kasson. She decided the business wasn’t for her and went back to school to get certified as a laser practitioner. When she opened Essence Skin Clinic, she says, “I hired a physician to do some of the things I wasn’t licensed for. It was a great marriage of medical and cosmetic. We have a nurse on staff. We have a surgeon who’s on the state board of medicine. We have estheticians here. We are blessed because we have Mayo Clinic here.”

Essence Skin Clinic offers a vast array of services. Sanneman explains, “We can do laser hair removal, veins, sun damage, brown spots, tightening of the skin, scars, acne—it all depends on what they are looking for. We can melt fat, we can freeze fat. There are just so many things we can do.” Each laser does different things. They also have an intense pulse light (IPL), which is not a laser.

“We also do beta testing for some lasers to get FDA approval in the United States. We also educate physicians and nurses and laser practitioners that want advanced practices or laser companies that want us to help educate them,” Sanneman says proudly.

“I love what I do,” Sanneman shares. “We do Botox, Juvederm®, microdermabrasions, facials, medical chemical peels, microneedling, permanent cosmetics—anything that works with the health and beauty aspects of the skin, which is a big organ. I like that people take pride in their looks. It’s not vanity; it’s about being the best you can.”


Stephanie Kriener, RN, BSN, owner and operator of Posh Facial Esthetics and Med Spa, says, “A medispa is going to have more medical grade treatments. These treatments are going to focus more on specific skin conditions such as pigmentation, acne, fine lines and wrinkles, volume loss and redness. Med spas are under the supervision of a medical director. It is definitely more results-oriented treatments versus a spa’s ‘feel good, relaxation’ services.”

“One of the best things about working in the esthetics industry is being introduced to new technologies and modalities,” Kriener shares. “One of those is a treatment called Ultherapy®. Ultherapy is the only noninvasive FDA-cleared procedure that lifts and tightens your neck, chin and brow and improves fine lines and wrinkles on the chest. Posh is the only clinic in Rochester to offer this service.”

Posh Facial Esthetics and Med Spa offers multiple services. Kriener adds, “Whether you want to get ready for an event, prevent fine lines and wrinkles, treat acne, etc., there is truly something for everyone here.”

Posh offers Botox, dermal fillers, microderms, facials, microneedling, chemical peels, laser hair removal, Ultherapy®, BBL (broadband light) and medical-grade skincare and lash products.

Kriener says, “My education started at Northeast Iowa Community College in 1995, where I attained my associate degree in nursing. I then attained my bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Iowa. I worked as a pediatric cardiac ICU nurse at Mayo Clinic for 16 years, but I always had a passion for beauty and esthetics. Once I started to inject, fill and sculpt my clients I knew it was something I loved and wanted to take to the next level and open my own business. I have been injecting for six years now and I continue to be passionate about each person I work with.”

“My passion for nursing has carried over to my children,” Kriener shares, “my son Kyle (19) is a freshman at Mankato State University in the nursing program, hoping to become a nurse anesthetist. My daughter Kaitlyn (17) is a senior at Mayo High School and wants to start Rochester Community and Technical College in the fall for nursing. She has already attained her certified nursing assistant certificate through the PSEO option at her high school.”


Andria Booth-Kowalczyk, APRN, CNP and owner of Slow Coast Spa, says, “The most obvious difference is that a medical spa offers medical-grade treatments (requiring a medical license) to correct deep-lying skin concerns (rosacea, acne, capillaries, sun damage, birth marks/port wine stains, etc.) volume loss and etched-in facial lines.”

“Just do your homework, because at a certain point a surgical procedure will yield a better result,” Booth-Kowalczyk shares. “Work with someone who knows the difference and respects your wallet.”

When asked what’s unique about Slow Coast Spa, Booth-Kowalczyk says, “I never wonder how I stack up against others in town. I have a unique approach, I tell the truth because I know the truth, I don’t offer smoke-and-mirror treatments, I work in the deeper layers of skin and subcutaneous tissues, and I suspect the biggest difference is that I work alone. It’s just me. I handle all communications, all scheduling and provide every treatment I offer. I own my results. I take pride in offering only corrective treatments that provide sustainable results.”

Slow Coast Spa’s specialties include: laser resurfacing, IPL laser treatments, NdYag vessel treatments, laser hair removal, Botox, Juvederm, dermal fillers, Kybella®, suture/thread lifts, medical-needling, scar remodeling and medical-grade skin care products.

Booth-Kowalczyk says people typically choose to visit Slow Coast Spa because, “I see people of all ages, ethnicities, genders, orientations, etc. I’m culturally sensitive and am honored to join every client on their journey toward a brighter glow. I’m in my 40s and don’t wear makeup, ever. That seems to be a big draw for clients—the idea that I can personally showcase healthy, glowing, naked skin—and provides credibility and hope that they too can conquer their quest for a streamlined, makeup-free life. Most of my clients are striving to ‘pump-the-breaks’ on aging. The treatment plan looks a little different for every client, but typically involves rebalancing a noisy complexion, softening lines and restoring angles.”

Booth-Kowalczyk is a nurse practitioner with a tenured career in hospital-based plastic surgery since 2002. “Back as a burn and trauma nurse at Stanford (in California),” Booth-Kowalczyk shares, “I was inspired by lasers when we started using them to remodel traumatic scars (yes, the talent of plastic surgery teams extends far beyond cosmetic augmentations). I know skin at a cellular level and understand how it behaves in the setting of light physics and dermal manipulation (a necessary foundation when handling and providing dermal treatments using big equipment).”

Booth-Kowalczyk has some tips and recommendations for a do-it-yourself glow-starter. She advises women to “smile, it’s the freest facelift.” She also encourages women to wear sunscreen every day, and her last recommendation for a healthy glow, “Sex. Seriously, when have you not been glowing after sex?”


While each of these medispas offer slightly different services, each one wants to help their clients fix imperfections and be more satisfied with their appearance.

If you haven’t visited a medispa yet, but you’d like to bolster your appearance in one way or another, consider reaching out to a local medispa clinic and see how they can help you address areas of concern.

Cindy Mennenga, owner of MedCity WordCraft, LLC is a freelance writer and editor based in Rochester.