Is there a difference between a physician who is the medical director of a spa and a physician who performs aesthetic medical procedures in a spa that is not physician-owned?

Yes. The “Medical Director” designation has come to mean different things to different people. Correctly used, it describes a physician who does not practice medicine, but rather one who is responsible for overseeing medical practice within a clinical environment. Thus, the function of a Medical Director is limited to administrative responsibilities, such as reviewing, advertising and marketing materials for regulatory compliance.

When a medical practice offers ancillary spa services or a physician-owned spa offers aesthetic medical procedures, a physician can properly refer to himself or herself as a “Medical Director.” The physician generally wears two hats in these organizations-one as a practicing physician and another as an administrator.

Only a physician-owned spa can legitimately have a Medical Director. Unfortunately, the medical spa industry often uses the term “Medical Director” to lead consumers to believe that a non-physician owned spa is employing a physician to perform medical services. A non-physician owned spa cannot provide aesthetic medical procedures to the public nor can it legally employ a licensed physician. Thus, use of the term “Medical Director” by a non physician-owned spa to mislead the public to believe they employ a doctor who performs aesthetic medical services would be a fraudulent business practice.

Physicians may operate a private physician’s office within a non-physician owned spa, however they must ensure that all advertising and marketing materials used by the spa properly disclose the physician’s relationship with the spa.

Many non-physician spa owners believe they can employ a physician to be their “Medical Director” and perform aesthetic medical procedures within their spa. This is incorrect. Any physician who accepts employment by a non-physician spa owner with the intent of performing aesthetic medical procedures as the spa’s medical director is subject to disciplinary action and increased liability.

Consumers should do a little homework before blindly accepting services from a spa advertising aesthetic medical procedures by a “Medical Director.”

(1)Medesthetics febr 2007 page 20)
Legal Issues by Scott Blair, JD. MIM .)


What is longevity of life without health? Adults today are looking not only to extend their lives, but to enjoy their extra years. A simplified message for older adults is to follow the ten keys to healthy aging:

  • Prevent bone loss and muscle weakness
  • Control blood pressure
  • Increase physical activity
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain social contact
  • Participate in annual skin screening for cancer
  • Get regular immunizations
  • Lower cholesterol and combat depression

These strategies can help people take charge of their health and delay or prevent disease and injury as well as speed recovery time. People should seek out places that provide access to resources for social contact, physical activity, transportation and other needs. Making the golden years more golden requires adults to apply some basic keys that will provide enjoyment of those extra years. Dr. Ly provides free skin screening in Maui Hawaii at various fairs and cancer Awareness events. Dr. Ly also provides annual cancer skin screenings at her Dermatology clinic at 89 Hookele st. #101 Kahului, Hawaii by appointment at 808-877-6526 or

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