News & Features

Featured Doctor: Spa Doc

Mary Ann Contogiannis, MD
Greensboro, North Carolina

Doc Spa Combine a little Botox with a soothing, relaxing day at a spa?

More plastic and cosmetic surgery patients are doing exactly that, thanks to the growth of a new type of facility known as the “medical spa” which is basically a marriage of a plastic and cosmetic surgery office with all the soothing joys of a well appointed day spa.

“A medical spa is a combination of the services you expect from a spa – like skin care and massage – plus, the surgical services offered by a plastic surgeon,” says Mary Ann Contogiannis, M.D. plastic surgeon and owner of Renaissance Center for Plastic Surgery & Wellness in Greensboro, North Carolina. “Four years ago, I added with a skin care specialist to my staff and found the patients really liked the extra care before and after their surgical rejuvenations. The trend of plastic surgery patients using spa services seemed to grow from there.”

Doc Spa Currently, the growth of medical spas in America is starting to look more like what has been offered at spa and wellness centers in Europe for decades. There, the emphasis has always been a question of, not repairing damage to the face and body, but preventing that damage from happening in the first place. Thus, a spa and the office of a plastic surgeon seem to go together like love and marriage.

Actually, many plastic surgeons are hooking up with a spa. Experts at the International Spa Association, the Day Spa Association, the International Spa Association and the International Medical Spa Association reckon about 400 to 450 such medical spas now exist in the U.S., with more being planned.

How do the two facilities complement each other? For instance, women who opt for a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) suffer less pain, heal faster and use fewer medications if they have a series of lymphatic massages in the spa during the weeks before their surgical procedures. Also medically helpful, accord to Dr. Contogiannis, are aromatherapy and other body treatments in the spa’s wet room. Yet another popular amenity, a Vichy shower— a warm spray from a hand-held nozzle applied to the back and legs of a patient -- is also frequently used to wash away the leavings of a seaweed wrap or a Dulse Scrub while also stimulating the patient’s circulation.

Overall, those oh-so-soothing spa treatments can be important to the outcome of surgery because the patient is less stressed, the muscles, more relaxed, and the skin, clean and detoxified. For instance, a lymphatic massage helps facelift patients because the rub-down helps the tissues to drain better after the operation. (The body naturally produces water and swelling as a side effect any time an incision is made in the skin.)

“While working with some popular spa treatments, I found some, like the Dead Sea Salt Scrub Glow, are beneficial because salt from the Dead Sea in the Middle East has a higher concentration of magnesium and does a better job of exfoliation on the skin,” Dr. Contogiannis says.

Thus, most medical spas have become a sort of one-stop beauty and loveliness shop for skin treatments plus the surgical rejuvenations that usually feature, at least laser treatments, facial peels, microdermabrasion, collagen and Botox.

Doc Spa “I figured, why send my patients somewhere else?” Dr. Contogiannis says. “They ask for the spa treatments so often, I decided to offer those services from my office when I moved to a new building.”

Maybe the medical spa is a concept whose time has really arrived. And allows more women to will make a complete liar of the 18th century poet who once wrote: “Beauty is the first gift nature gives a woman and the first thing it takes away.”

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