Day Spa v Medical Spa – What’s the Difference?

Sarah examining Visia

What's the confusion?

A Day Spa is somewhere you go with the girls, or with a partner to enjoy some downtime. Typically, guests enjoy a massage, manicure or facial. Beauty treatments & skincare ranges that have no lasting or permanent effects, and have no corrective nature.

A Medical Spa, is a place that examines what each patient’s unique needs are, devises a plan to prevent, treat or correct and applies the plan by a Doctor, Nurse or other qualified practitioners. Treatments and Skincare have long lasting effects. 


The Beauty Industry

The beauty industry is huge. And growing rapidly. For years the beauty industry has tried to make people look like a parody of themselves. The aim, though not entirely intentional, was to make people look like they had had something done. This resulted in people looking unnatural. We now know, that this is largely as a result of a lack of training and knowledge. 

In the same way, ‘Beauty Tech’, and emerging trend word, is something that many are trying to jump onto without really understanding some of the technology that is out there.

Day Spa

Traditional day spas provide personal care treatments focused on improving how we feel. Which is great. We all need that. A Massage, some pampering and some well needed ‘you’ time. Some spa’s offer facials, and some offer the trendy but expensive hydra facial. 

Day spas are not under the supervision of a medical director or medical practitioner, and treatments are not typically performed by medically trained professionals such as Doctors, Registered Nurses or nurse practitioners. 

A word of warning. If you are at a day spa and you are been offered something that appears to be medical, like body contouring or anything laser based, ask them to credential their expertise and training. Any FDA / Health Canada approved lasers and body sculpting technology, that offers a permanent solution, can ONLY be offered by a Physician Directed practice.  

A day spa is the place to go to feel better, relax and get your nails done. A place for change both internally and externally. 

Day Spa Image

Medical Spa

A Medical Spa should be operated by a Medically Licensed Doctor of Medicine. Typically supported by Registered Nurse/s and other highly qualified practitioners. 

Medical Doctors operate under a strict governing body. In BC that is the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons. These guidelines enable Medical Clinics to be held to a much higher standard of accountability than a beauty salon or spa. Due to their higher level of staff qualification and training, Medical Aesthetics  / Medical Spas offer treatments, procedures and equipment that are of a higher grade, standard and strength to those offered in salons and spas.

As a result, the outcomes in Medical Aesthetics are more pronounced. You will find more planning, more analysis, photography will be a key element, and your plan will be for you. The aim, will be to make you look and feel like the best version of yourself. 

Skincare will be a Physician Directed only skincare range like iS Clinical or Zo Skinhealth . That means that ONLY a Medical Doctor can stock and sell, because the active ingredients are much stronger, and much more effective. Off the shelf and Day spa products are generally less potent and less effective.

Lasers and Body sculpting treatments must be performed under the direction of a suitably trained Medical Doctor. Lasers can scar permanently, and complications can arise. Many a day spa is trying to jump onto the medical spa ‘bandwagon’ with a Medical Director who is always strangely absent, or by offering something less effective with exaggerated claims of success. If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is.  

 If you are looking for expert skincare and anti-aging treatments that deliver real results, you need to choose a Medical Aesthetics Clinic or Medi Spa. 

At Whistler Medical Aesthetics, we don’t particularly enjoy the identification of Medical Spa, as we feel this identifies too readily with the beauty industry, which is too shallow a description for what we provide. That said, it has become the industry recognized term, for now, so we will stick with it. One battle at a time.

Botox cosmetic


A Medical Spa, such as Whistler Medical Aesthetics is more committed to the patient journey, and as such will want to gather as much information as possible prior to any treatment, to ensure that the treatment is right for you, and has a high chance of success. 

The consultation is always complimentary, is conducted by a highly trained individual working exclusively with the Medical Director, whose sole aim is to establish and meet the patients needs. 

Linsey consulting
Our consultant discussing options with a patient

Whistler Medical Aesthetics services

  • Medical Grade Skincare. We pride ourselves on spending time with our clients to offer a customized selection of products that are developed according to latest scientific, clinical research. Physician skincare has the highest quality ingredients and standards in comparison to off the shelf spa skincare products. All products are dermatological and all are clinically tested for the best efficacy. We take many factors into consideration before recommending a skincare regimen for our clients, and all clients are offered, and routinely receive a comprehensive skin analysis. We are the only Medical Spa in the Sea to Sky to offer both Vectra and Visia photographic solutions. This gives us the ability to offer products that have been clinically proven to have a positive effect on your skin. Products sold outside of a medspa cannot offer the same.
  • Facials (Medical Grade): Some Day Spa’s tout that they are less expensive than medical offerings, which is simply untrue. For example, locally a Hydrafacial in a non-clinical setting starts at $199 going up to $350!! By comparison, a medical-grade SilkPeel Dermalinfusion, with the Bela MD Skin Health Platform & Serums.Dermalinfusion’s patented 3-in-1 technology infuses the skin with serums at the moment of exfoliation, which results in greater serum absorption, and retention, optimizing plumpness, hydration, tone, and texture. Each treatment is tailored individually to each client, and conducted by either our Registered Nurse or a Graduate of Dermal Studies costs only $125.  Compared to facials offered at a day spa, med spa facials can incorporate extractions and topical products with higher concentrations of active ingredients.
  • Chemical Peels: We use the acclaimed O Cosmedics from Australia. Topically applied formulations that trigger a controlled shedding of the skin to accelerate the growth of new and youthful appearing skin cells. Chemical peels are available in a variety of different types each using different active ingredients (peeling agents) depending on the condition being addressed with treatment.
  • Micro-Needling: We use the only Microneedling pen with FDA approval for the treatment of acne – Skinpen. Involves the creation of microscopic channels through the surface of the skin, which leads to formation of new tissue and releases the skin’s natural growth factors which promote scar and hyperpigmentation repair and healing. The treatment can be enhanced by adding topical treatments or the patient’s own platelet-rich plasma, which are better able to penetrate deeper into the skin with the channels created by the Micro-Needling.
  • Laser & Light Treatments: We offer the only Hybrid Fractional Laser platform in the Sea to Sky with the Halo by Sciton. This incorporates the worlds most powerful light based system, BBL – Broadband Light. There are many laser treatment options available to address a variety of concerns, including wrinkles, loss of collagen, texture issues, discoloration and blemishes, and more. Some common laser treatments include BBL Clearsilk photofacial, Clear V being removal, Forever Bare Hair Removal and Forever Clear for intense acne therapies.
  • Coolsculpting: The worlds #1 body sculpting treatment, with over 6 million treatment globally. Whistler Medical Aesthetics are Masters Accredited, and consistently among the top performers in Canada. Coolscultping is the #1 method for addressing stubborn areas of fat, killing fat cells permanently. 
  • Emsculpt: The worlds first device that simultaensouly builds muscle while killing fat cells. Commonly combined with Coolsculpting, Emsculpt as a standalone simulates 20,000 crunches in one 30 minute treatment. 
  • Emtone: The worlds first dual frequency modality for addressing cellulite. EMTONE is the first and only device that simultaneously delivers both thermal and mechanical energy to treat all major contributing factors to cellulite. EMTONE simultaneously emits both radiofrequency and targeted pressure energy. Combined there is a synergistic effect that neither technology can achieve on its own. Emtone is the first treatment that effectively works against cellulite. 
  • Vanquish ME: The worlds first bulk fat treatment technology. During treatment with the Vanquish ME™, patients achieve cumulative circumferential reduction of the waistline, creating a slimmer waistline and a flatter stomach. Vanquish ME™ utilizes non-invasive radiofrequency (RF) technology to gently target fat cells without causing irritation or damage to skin or surrounding tissues. 
  • Emsella: The first treatment for Incontinence that is neither surgical or invasive. Utilizing HIFM – High Intensity Frequently pulsed Elctro Magnetic technology Emsella stimulates all of the muscles in the pelvic floor, effectively training your body to do the perfect Kegel over and over again. The strengthened pelvic floor cures or significantly reduces the frequency of urge incontinence. 
  • Exilis Ultra: An amazing Radio Frequency / energy device that tightens skin, rebuilds the collagen bank, and rejuvenates in a completely non-invasive but clinically proven method. Sometimes known as the Madonna Lift. 
  • Botox or Dysport: Injectable treatments to address lines and wrinkles.
  • Belkyra / Kybella: The permanent reduction of submental fat (for double chin).
  • Dermal Fillers: Dr. Kennea is one of only seven physicians in the whole of Canada to make up the Allergan Medical Foundation MD Codes Faculty. The faculty are responsible for developing techniques, and teaching Doctors across North America in the best methodology of injecting dermal fillers. Most commonly formulated with hyaluronic acid, dermal fillers help to volumize areas of the face that have hollowed or formed wrinkles due to a loss of collagen. At Whistler Medical Aesthetics we only use Juvederm dermal fillers for their high level of consistency and reliability. , Restylane, and Radiesse. There are many to choose from.
  • IV Lounge: Managed by Physician and Registered Nurse we offer the most cutting edge in a anti ageing, immunity boosting, health and wellness Intravenous therapies, including the revolutionary NAD+. 
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