Can a Dentist Open a Medical Spa?

Many doctors are interested in offering medical spa and cosmetic services to their patients. From dermatologists and plastic surgeons to obstetrician gynecologists, pain doctors, and even dentists, the trend of providing these services is growing. Entrepreneurs and non-medical health professionals have also seen the potential of medical spas, but they are not sure how to proceed. In the US, the services provided by medical spas are considered medical, and according to the legal doctrine known as “corporate practice of medicine”, only a doctor or corporation owned by a doctor can own a medical facility.

Furthermore, only physicians or physician-owned corporations may charge patients' fees for the provision of medical services. In Ontario, aesthetic medical treatments such as injections, lasers, or other technologies to treat or improve the client's appearance are subject to the regulations and legal requirements of Health Canada as a medical spa business owner. In the US and UK, there is usually a connection between a non-medical entrepreneur and a doctor whereby the non-medical entrepreneur will organize an MSO (Management Services Organization) that will partner with a doctor's company for the latter to provide medical services. The objective of the doctrine is to provide patients with ethics-based care rather than for-profit care influenced by someone with no medical training.

So who can open a medical spa? In most US states, only doctors or physician-owned corporations can receive payments for medical services that include many of the services provided by a medical spa. The consequences of violating the Doctrine of Corporate Practice of Medicine include civil liability, administrative sanctions, and even criminal sanctions. Given the rapid growth of the medical spa industry, it is important for entrepreneurs to understand the rules and regulations in their state before attempting to open a medical spa. It is also important for physicians who are offered payment to serve as “medical director of a spa” to consult with an attorney before accepting any such agreement.

With proper knowledge and understanding of the laws, entrepreneurs and doctors alike can benefit from this lucrative industry.

Theodore Eflin
Theodore Eflin

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