Cosmetic Procedures in a Spa or Salon – Factors to Consider

Dr. Parish Philadelphia Dermatologist

By Dr. Lawrence Charles Parish, MD

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103

Physician, Dermatology, Adult


As the quest for the perfect body and a flawless face continues, many consumers have turned to salons, spas, and malls to enhance their appearance at bargain prices. While all cosmetic procedures are medical, many consumers are being influenced to believe that certain procedures are easy and free of risks or complications – leading many to seek non-traditional settings in which unlicensed non-physicians are administering treatments.


  • Do choose a location carefully. Beware of locations outside of a physician’s office, such as a spa, salon, or store-front in a shopping mall. These locations usually have no medical staff on-site or emergency care services in place should something go wrong. Also, although a medi-spa may be owned or directed by a doctor, the doctor may only visit the facility occasionally. Ask if the doctor is on-site and immediately available to supervise procedures.
  • Do make sure the doctor is on site. A physician who is board-certified in dermatology or another specialty with equivalent training and experience should perform most cosmetic procedures. If the physician is supervising the procedure, make sure he or she is on-site and immediately available to respond to any questions or problems that may occur while the procedure is being performed.
  • Do check credentials. Putting people in scrubs and having medical charting on the walls make a facility appear professional, but it doesn’t make their staff qualified to perform a medical procedure. Ask about background and training. Is the physician a member of a medical specialty organization? This indicates a physician’s desire to keep abreast of the latest scientific data and medical information.


  • Never go to someone’s home or a hotel room to have a cosmetic procedure performed. Cosmetic procedures are medical procedures and should not be performed in these settings.
  • Don’t rely on price. If you are receiving a procedure that costs significantly less than usual, you can assume you are not receiving the best treatment. Price should not be the determining factor.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Questions you might pose include:
    • What if something goes awry?
    • What procedures are in place to deal with an emergency?
    • What training does the staff have?
    • Who will perform the procedure?
    • Is this treatment right for me?
    • Is this laser, device or technique appropriate for my skin type?
    • Have you performed this procedure before on the same body part I’m considering? May I see your before and after photographs?
    • Have you reviewed my medical history?
  •  Don’t be afraid to walk away. If it doesn’t feel right, then find a more reputable location.