What is the Difference Between a Day Spa and a Med Spa – 2024 Guide

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Day spas have been extremely popular for many years and they can be a great place to relax and receive beauty treatments such as facials or massages. Med spas are now also becoming popular. What are the differences between these two types of spa? They both provide beauty and anti-ageing treatments so they must be the same right?

Wrong. The two types of spa do indeed share some similarities but they are a world apart in what they are able to offer to their clients.

What are day spas?

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A day spa is exactly what it says. It is a spa you visit for the day, unlike destination spas or resort spas where you can spend the night. These types of spas offer body treatments such as mud wraps and sea salt scrubs as well as facials and massages.

Day spas can come in all sizes and with treatments to fit different budgets. Some spas will have long lists of services and have hydrotherapy tubs and others may be smaller town spas with a simple list of services.

Day spa staff are not allowed to carry out any medical procedures and do not have to have any medical qualifications and this is where the differences become apparent.

What are medical spas?

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Medical or med spas differ from day spas in the treatments that they are able to offer. Where you might visit a day spa for a relaxing day of hot stone massages and pedicures you would visit a med spa for treatments such as dermal fillers and botox.

Med spas can carry out the same medical beauty treatments that a physician can in his or her office but in a more relaxed atmosphere. The idea of a med spa is to provide a more welcoming and calming atmosphere for the beauty medical treatments that would normally take place in a doctor’s office.

What treatments does a day spa do?

If you visited a day spa you might find a range of treatments including hot stone massages, Swedish massages, manicures & pedicures, facials and hair styling. They might even provide nutritional services and fitness programs including yoga or Tai Chi. The aim of a day spa is to make the client unwind, relax and leave looking and feeling better than when they arrived.

What treatments and procedures would you find in a med spa?

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This is where you will see the real difference between a med spa and a day spa. The procedures carried out in a med spa can include Coolsculpting, botox, micro dermabrasion, fillers, teeth whitening and body sculpting.

In many states a med spa can only be owned by a licensed physician and the treatments available must be carried out by properly trained and qualified health care professionals. Whereas in a day spa there is no need for any medical background. Both types of spa will be covered by appropriate insurance.

Medical spas concentrate more on anti-aging treatments mostly affecting the skin. Day spas concentrate on helping their customers to relax and feel good but the effects are shorter lasting than many of the treatments available in a med spa.

Qualifications needed to work in a med spa

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The qualifications needed to work in a med spa will differ depending on the role undertaken. For instance a medical spa nurse would need a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing or a Diploma from a nursing program. An Esthetician will need to complete around 600 hours at an esthetician school and for someone wanting to be a plastic surgeon then there is around 14 long years of study and experience to be gained being able to practice independently.

Do you need a day spa or a med spa?

The first decision you will be making is what are you looking to achieve? If you are after a relaxing day with a range of beauty treatments for your face, nails and hair along with a massage in a tranquil setting then the choice is always going to be a day spa. Choosing one will often depend on your location and your budget. Search the internet for recommendations locally and read reviews. Look at the spa’s website for a list of treatments and plan your day.

If you are looking for longer lasting treatments to remove light scarring, sun damage or smooth out some wrinkles then you will likely be looking for a med spa. If you choose badly when picking a day spa then the worse that will happen is likely to be a waste of money or a bad massage. If you choose a bad med spa however you could be facing much worse problems.

What to look for when choosing a med spa

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Just as you might read reviews for day spas it is important to read up on med spas too. Check how long the med spa has been operating. Many spas close due to an error being made and the financial loss from being sued by a client. If the spa has been running for a number of years then it is likely to be reputable. Ask for their certifications and go through any questions you may have.

If you are thinking of visiting a med spa check Google for local spas first and read reviews. For instance if you were in New Jersey you could search for Ethos Spa and check out their website for a full list of treatments. Follow up after by reading reviews and testimonials to make certain of your choice.

Good spas will be happy to answer any questions you have and should provide you with a proper consultation from an experienced medical professional before you have any procedures. Ask them about aftercare and how to get in touch in case something should go wrong during any recovery time.


So you can see the main differences between day spas and medical spas is the treatments offered and the staffing. Where day spas hire beauticians and masseurs a med spa must hire medical nurses, estheticians and sometimes plastic surgeons. Day spas concentrate on pampering you and med spas change the appearance of your skin and body.