The Hybrid: The Medi-Spa

Dr. Mitchel P. Goldman (right), an associate clinical professor of dermatology/medicine at the University of California, San Diego-as well as medical director for La Jolla Spa MD-is a progressive dermatologist who combines major cosmetic breakthroughs in science and medicine with vision, creativity and skill. His spa is part of a new and booming industry called "medical spas," where physicians and estheticians work side by side, employing the best of both worlds: medicine and salon care.

When patients make an appointment at a medical spa, "the dermatologist can make an accurate diagnosis, since some conditions that may appear to be acne are not," he says. "The dermatologist can then prescribe treatments, and the estheticians can perform acne facials, comedo extractions and light exfoliating chemical peels to aid in acne resolution."

Dr. Goldman works closely with his wife, Dianne York-Goldman, cofounder of La Jolla Spa MD, and a former model and actress. They most recently coauthored You Glow, Girl!-a new skin-care book for teens. York-Goldman is a firm believer that medical spas are the wave of the future.

The Spa Room at La Jolla Spa MD is a far cry from the drab clinical treatment rooms found in most dermatologists' offices. It aims to be a cross between a typical exam room and a spa therapy suite.

"The rejuvenating spa experience can be twice as successful when combined with the latest procedures in cosmetic medicine," she says. "Who better to give you a facial or recommend an anti-aging technique than a trained dermatologist?"

Medical spas "offer the convenience, comfort, appointment availability and face-time that patients desire," adds Dr. Mauro C. Romita of AJUNE Medical Day Spa. "Since medical spas are directed by physicians, their on-premises estheticians have the same pharmaceutical training and medical-grade equipment available at a dermatologist's office. However, medical spas are usually more cost-effective, especially considering that estheticians have more time to devote to patients than a dermatologist normally would."

The key to success at "medi-spas" is the way in which physicians and estheticians work closely together, merging their skills sets.

"Physicians and estheticians blend science with beauty through effective combination therapies that may not be available in a dermatologist's office," Dr. Romita says. "After the physician assesses a patient's condition and prescribes a course of action, he creates a results-driven program with the esthetician that may include anything from laser treatments and peels to rebalancing facials and lymphatic drainage. By combining noninvasive therapies, treatments reinforce one another, and results are more enduring."

Dr. Romita offers the following glance at a sample customized acne program offered at AJUNE, combining four advanced skin-care procedures over the course of 6 to 8 weeks:

  • NLite Laser: A series of laser treatments. "The first noninvasive laser system approved by the FDA for the treatment of facial acne, the NLite kills acne bacteria without side effects," he says.
  • A series of Rebalancing Facials: "The facials encourage skin to regenerate nutrients and eliminate toxins," he says, "while desensitizing skin, moisturizing, eliminating redness and regulating capillary permeability."
  • Face and Neck Lymphatic Drainage: a technique "used to drain toxin and waste fluid in the neck and face," he explains. It is beneficial for rosacea, acne and facial swelling.

Purity Peel: "Utilizing salicylic acid, the Purity Peel clears the skin of blemishes, reduces oily enlarged pores, decreases acne bacteria and heals acne lesions while exfoliating and calming inflammation," he says. "Results are immediate."


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