Some Medical Spas Are Offering These Unapproved Treatments

Image of towels, a brush, candles, and warm stones to represent common medical spas.

Medical spas are increasingly popular for the variety of services they offer, but they sometimes violate federal laws established to protect consumers. Read further to understand what a med spa is, and how some spas use unapproved drugs to treat their patients.


Med Spas Offer Cosmetic And Aesthetic Procedures

Medical spas, often referred to as “medi spas” or “med spas,” are facilities that offer cosmetic and aesthetic procedures. Traditionally, these procedures tend to include light or laser treatments, injectables such as Botox and dermal fillers, as well as IV and peptide therapies.

In most jurisdictions, med spas are generally required to operate under the supervision of licensed physicians or other medical professionals. In addition to the services they offer, med spas also have access to medical-grade beauty and skincare treatments, which can often require a prescription.


The Growing Prevalence of Med Spas

According to Clinics in Dermatology, medical spas outnumber physician-based cosmetic practices in 73% of major cities in the United States due to their “savvy marketing, affordable pricing, and minimal wait times.” Accompanied by this ease of access can be increased risk for patients and concern for standardized oversight.

The increase in med spas in the United States is the result of increasing:

  • affordability by both operators and consumers
  • consumer interest in wellness
  • And increased marketing by celebrity doctors and influencers


Some Med Spas Use Unapproved Drugs

Part of the risk associated with med spas comes down to the authorization of administering treatments, the approval of said treatments, and the sale of prescription-only pharmaceuticals.

Given that many med spa facilities often staff non-physician operators, there is widespread concern over the lack of standardized training and oversight, which may further contribute to the risk associated with these businesses.

LegitScript frequently observes wellness or med spa merchants offering products such as ipamorelin, a peptide- or protein-based drug that has not been approved by the FDA for any indication.

In addition to unapproved treatment protocols, some med spas have also been found offering prescription-only pharmaceuticals online without proper safeguards to ensure they are purchased with a valid prescription.

One common pharmaceutical offered by med spas includes Latisse, an eyelash treatment that contains bimatoprost, a prescription-only active pharmaceutical ingredient in many jurisdictions, including the United States.


LegitScript Flags Problematic and/or Illegal Drugs For Sale Online

The lack of FDA approval for some of these products, as well as the distribution of prescription-only pharmaceuticals without requiring a valid prescription, is of particular concern to payment processors, presenting an elevated risk for BRAM and VIRP violations.

In response to the rise of med spa businesses, our analysts diligently search and flag risks associated with these merchants. LegitScript will continue to monitor med spas for offering unapproved drugs and report risk accordingly.