What is a Medi-Spa? Perfecting Imperfections and Taking Care of Ourselves

With Mother’s Day upon us, mothers—myself included—find ourselves reflecting on the sacrifices we make for our families, and we want to pamper ourselves. Self-care is essential to our well-being, and it’s important for moms to take time to take care of ourselves.

Visiting a spa is a great way to take some well-deserved time for a luxurious massage, refreshing steam bath, relaxing sauna, manicure, pedicure or even a rejuvenating facial. While at the spa, some women may want to have some alterations or corrections, like Botox® or a chemical peel. Where does that fit in to the realm of self-care? What is the difference between a spa and a medi-spa? 


The International Spa Association describes spas as “places devoted to overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body and spirit.”

Defining the difference between spas and medi-spas, Dr. Srdan Babovic, a plastic surgeon at Olmsted Medical Center says, “At this time, there are no regulations for using the word ‘spa.’ As a result, many salons promote their pedicures, manicures or similar as spa services, although they are not a spa. At a minimum, a spa should offer professionally administered massages, facial treatments and body treatments in a quiet, serene environment. A ‘medi-spa’ is a spa that has a medical program, operated under the supervision of licensed healthcare professionals. These spas use medical treatments such as laser, microdermabrasion, Botox® and others, as well as providing traditional spa services.” 


If you are considering having some refinements done, you will want to do your homework to determine which medi-spa, or medspa as they are also called, offers the services you are seeking. While offering similar services, there are variations of services offered from clinic to clinic.

Olmsted Medical Center does not offer spa services; however, they do offer medi-spa treatments such as Dermapen®, fractional ablative and non-ablative laser treatments, Botox®, soft tissue fillers, Kybella®—non-surgical treatment for a double chin—and cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. At Olmsted Medical Center, medical rejuvenation procedures are performed by registered plastic surgery nurses and supervised by a board-certified plastic surgeon. These services are performed in the new Women’s Health Pavilion in Rochester.

 Dr. Kory Tuominen of Refined Skin Medi-Spa, with locations in Rochester and Red Wing, says, “The ‘medi’ represents the medical aspects. In addition to the cleansing and relaxing facials and waxing and massages, medi-spas offer varying types of procedures that are medically prescribed/supervised: lasers to treat multiple concerns (sun damage, collagen loss/weakening, veins, hair removal, wrinkles, toe nail fungus), injectables (neurotoxins: Botox®/xeomin); fillers: Juvederm Voluma®, Radiesse®; injectable chin lipo: Kybella®; lipo: Vaser®, laser, low level laser lipo; chemical peels; micro needling: MD Pen®; microdermabrasion.” Dr. Tuominen adds that some medi-spa services have been partially reimbursed by insurance for services including “toe nail fungus, acne, rosacea/veins and psoriasis.” 

To sum it up, Dr. Tuominen adds, “The medi-spa is a cosmetic medical practice focusing on the health of the skin and patient as a whole, whereas the spa is more of a feel-good experience with less invasive treatments looking more at providing relaxation.”


Dr. Vicky Hagstrom from anew medspa.clinic, with locations in Rochester and Minnetonka, says, “Medspa expands on the concept of caring for the skin by actually changing it through stronger, medical/prescription-based products and treatments. The stronger the product, with an ability to heal damage (sun damage, scars, diseases like acne and dermatitis, are a few examples), the greater the risk of harming it as well. Therefore, a physician must be involved. In addition, other services that reverse the natural aging processes (laser devices to heal aging skin, injectable medications, such as neurotoxins, and dermal fillers) are only available to licensed physicians and need to be administered by properly certified medical personnel.” 

Dr. Hagstrom adds, “All medspas are not created equal. Many have an off-site medical director who may or may not have direct supervision or oversight of staff in the office, and often, the
staff performing the actual services are non-medically trained individuals.”  Anyone interested in pursuing these treatments should research their potential provider for a proper medical license and experience in this highly specialized, artistic craft. She explains, “It generally takes two
years for a properly certified practitioner to become proficient in this field of injectable
aesthetic medicine.”

Services offered at anew medspa.clinic include injectables, such as dermal fillers for facial restructuring, plus neurotoxins for expression line control; skin rejuvenation procedures; non-invasive body contouring programs; and hair restoration services (medical and surgical), including scalp and brow restoration. Dr. Hagstrom adds, “I focus on advanced innovative tools and techniques to maximize the outcome while minimizing the risk and healing/recovery time of every service I provide.”

Jennifer Sanneman, owner of Essence Skin Clinic, says her clinic, which opened in 1988, was the first to offer cosmetic procedures in Rochester. She adds that Essence Skin Clinic is “rated in the top six percent in the nation by Allergan, maker of Botox® and Juvederm®, so we think that’s a pretty high honor.” Essence offers numerous medi-spa services with a focus on skin disorders and corrective cosmetic surgery, while helping clients feel better about themselves.


Spas are places of relaxation and restoration, while medi-spas/medspas are facilities where people can have tweaks, tucks and cosmetic corrections to regain what we have lost or enhance what we desire in a medical setting. Regardless of the goal, there is a place where you can achieve your goal of health, beauty or relaxation. Taking care of yourself, renewing yourself, is a great way to show your loved ones that you cherish yourself. Having specific, targeted medical procedures done are as essential to self-care as is getting a restorative massage. 

Cindy Mennenga, owner of Straight-Talk Wellness, is a health coach and freelance writer based in Rochester.