Top Medical Spa Legal Issues

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Medical spas offer services which are considered to fall under the rubric of medicine.  They are therefore governed by the same regulatory frameworks as exist for other providers of medical services. And that means a regulatory labyrinth which is easy to run afoul of.

But some medical spas go so far as to be knowingly non-compliant, which serves as a poor reflection on those of us who are rigorous in our pursuit of close compliance to all applicable laws and regulations.

Part of that has to do with the ethos of medical spas.  As commercial interests, their branding trends toward comfort, relaxation and self-pampering.  But a good medical spa should foster both tranquility and professionalism.  Unfortunately, professionalism sometimes takes a back seat to the retail aspects of medical spas.

This blog examines some of the top medical spa legal issues, arising from the nexus between retail services and medical service that med spas represent.

Examinations – a Problem Area

Because medical spas offer medical services, the intake process includes a full examination prior to any treatment being performed.  This examination must be performed, under all regulatory frameworks concerned, by a physician, a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner.

Further, all states require that an examination by one of the medical professionals cited above must precede the prescription of any drug (Botox, for example) or therapy performed in a medical spa.

The American Med Spa Association reports that 37% of respondents in a recent survey failed to provide a good faith examination by any of the listed professionals.

Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses

The unfortunate truth is that far too often (as the AmSpa statistic above shows), spa guests are processed without ever interacting with any of the licensed professionals accredited to examine them and prescribe treatment.

Registered and Licensed Practical Nurses are often called on in med spa facilities to do the job of the physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner, which falls outside compliance with applicable regulations.

Individual states may have unique wording in its regulations, but in every state you can name, RNs and LPNs are acting outside their purview when performing examinations.  If this is the case, the medical spa in question is non-compliant.  This exposes it to any number of punitive measures.


Telemedicine is the remote practice of medical care via communications technology.  While it’s traditionally been used to improve access to healthcare services in remote communities, its employment in the med spa sector is a gray area.

Legal responses to telemedicine are only now emerging but it’s clear that most states will respond with mandates that medical professionals (as named above) must be present by live audio and video stream.

Because telemedicine is new, states are only now addressing the practice with regulatory frameworks.  Med spa professionals are encouraged to retain legal support to better understand regulation in their home states.

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