MA considers 'medical spa' regulations

In recent times, doctors have increasingly begun to offer spa-style treatments such as laser hair removal and Botox injections, all attractive because they're typically paid for in cash and offer high margins. At the same time, they've faced competition from so-called "medical spas," which offer similar treatments in a spa-like environment along with standard beauty services.

Now, Massachusetts health officials want to crack down on the medical spas, following the lead of Florida, which has already begun regulating these businesses. Under a proposal issued by a state task force, the spas would be required to get licenses from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and recruit a doctor or nurse with special training to remove age spots or tattoos with a laser.

In its report, the task force noted that doctors and other professionals not specifically trained in dermatology have begun offering laser skin procedures, which "presents an unacceptable risk," members said.

Nationally, the number of medical spas around the country has grown from 500 in 2004 to 2,500 today. If this growth rate continues, expect such regulations to pop up in other states--either to protect patients or to protect physician-office revenues, depending on who you ask.

To get more background on medical spas:
- read this Wall Street Journal blog entry

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