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Should I open a medical spa?

Below is an example of the many emails I receive from doctors in residency. Many of these types of questions are from doctors in Family Practice but there are also quite a few from Plastic Surgery and Dermatology residents who don't want to be a lacky forever.

I've removed the name from the email but the questions are common so I thought I'd post this and see what sort of collective wisdom you more experienced doctors have for an about-to-be-graduate.

I am currently in my first year of Residency in Family Medicine. I am very interested in Aesthetic Medicine and in opening up a Cosmetic Spa when I am finished with my residency training. What are your suggestions in terms of how feasible this will be for me? Do I need to work for a few years as a general practioner before being able to proceed in this direction, or do I have the opportunity to dive straight into a cosmetic spa when I finish my training. I am hoping to use my elective time to learn cosmetic procedures. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
University of Oklahoma

Reader Comments (6)

Having learned much from this site without having shared anything yet, I'd like to chime in here. As a Derm, I'm not angry at Family Practice docs getting into some of the lesser cosmetic procedures and injections. I've not seen any evidence that a trained FP can't do a needle stick as well as I can. So, if you want choose to train in cosmetics as well as measles, I for one will wish you well. This is a business however and generally revolves around anti-aging treatments. There are times when a younger doc may have trouble relating to a generally older patient population.

CA dermatologist,

As a family practice physician what do you consider lesser cosmetic procedures.?

I also want to point out that I do more cosmetic procedures than anyone else in my area.

01.1 | Unregistered CommenterLH

As a primary care physician, you probably could throw up your "shingle" and be busy. Be very wary of the "build it and they will come" mantra many physicians have when they venture into aesthetic medicine. You need to be certain your area can support another medspa and that you have the capital to survive building up your practice (paying rent, equipment loans, staff, etc.) As an internist with a successfull aesthetic practice, this has been very rewarding both professionally and financially but it's not as easy as it looks.

01.3 | Unregistered CommenterIL MD


Does anyone have any additional comments?

Particularly this part:

"Do I need to work for a few years as a general practioner before being able to proceed in this direction, or do I have the opportunity to dive straight into a cosmetic spa [or cosmetic medicine/surgery practice] when I finish my training?"

Thanks in advance



I would recommend that you practice first and save some money. You will never survive unless you have significant backing. Your startup costs could push into 7 figures.

03.1 | Unregistered CommenterLH

MH: I think one of the tremendous advantages an established physician has over lay entrepreneurs trying to get into this business is that the doctor can avoid wasting tons of money (like many have including myself) on external advertising - which rarely cost justifies in this business long term - and market exclusively to his/her own patient population. This sounds easier than it is -- as most docs have no idea what stellar "internal marketing" even means. It works when it is done well, and it costs almost nothing in comparison to trying to advertise "to the world" via newspapers, magazines, radio, etc.

I always suggest that young docs just starting out try to partner up with an established older doc who may not have the drive and ambition at this point in his/her career to learn the mountain of things you need to know to succeed in a state of the art aesthetics practice (from marketing, sales and human resources to lasers, tissue interaction, fillers, et al).

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