$1.9 Billion Medical Spas Market Poised For Growth

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Baby Boomers’ Desire for Aesthetic Procedures Drives Demand, Says Marketdata

"Turning back the clock on aging is big business today, for American women and men."

Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., a leading independent market research publisher of “off-the-shelf” studies about service industries since 1979, has released a new 127-page report entitled: Medical Spas: A Market Analysis. This is a new market study about a growth niche healthcare market that has become more mainstream. The study examines the operations of medical spas (“med spas”), an interesting hybrid healthcare/cosmetic facility.

Approximately 2,100 “medical spas” or “med spas” are now operating in the United States. Medical spas only emerged ten years ago and exploded in number between 2007 and 2009. However, a major shake-out took place as franchises failed and the recession hit—exposing overoptimistic revenue assumptions and poor management. As primary care MDs seek to replace lost income, and as baby boomers age, demand should grow for minimally or non-invasive cosmetic procedures made possible by new laser equipment.

“There are many positives contributing to strong growth for med spas: the market for aesthetic procedures among 18-25 year olds is growing, especially for laser hair removal and tattoo removal, more MDs are looking to replace lost income with elective private pay services, and technical developments have enabled practitioners to offer a broader range of treatments. These technical developments have reduced the required treatment and recovery times, which in turn have led to greater patient demand,” according to John LaRosa.

Major Findings:

  • Marketdata estimates that revenues of the 2,100 U.S. medical spas reached $1.94 billion in 2012, and will hit $3.6 billion by 2016. Average revenues per facility are $924,000—with about 80% coming from procedures and 20% form retail product sales. The market is forecast to grow 18% per year. Fully 58% of med spas expected sales to grow more than 5% last year.
  • The market is driven by laser machine technology advances, which achieve results almost as good as cosmetic surgery, but are less invasive or non-invasive.
  • Americans spent $10 billion on cosmetic non-invasive procedures in 2011. 12 million cosmetic non-invasive procedures were performed, including Botox injections, dermal fillers, laser hair removal, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and skin rejuvenation. Aging Baby Boomers are fueling continued growth.
  • There are no national standards for defining or regulation medical spas and the lines are blurry between them and cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists’ practices. Botched procedures by poorly trained aestheticians or laser technicians has been an issue, since not all med spas have a physician on-site.
  • Females account for 83% of med spa clients, but the share of men is growing. The most requested esthetician services include: facials, waxing, microdermabrasion, chemical peels and other anti-aging treatments. There are 183,000 estheticians licensed to practice in the U.S. (they are not MDs).
  • Med spa practitioners may include: plastic surgeons, physicians assistants, MDs, OB/gyns, dermatologists, nurse practitioners, estheticians, laser technicians--even dentists. Each has their own specialty and level of expertise, but it’s up to the consumer to check on their experience and background for the procedure they want.
  • The average profit margin of a med spa is 14% of net sales. Start-up costs range from $700,000 to $1 million, with up to half of that devoted to buying or leasing the latest laser machines. These machines wind up being obsolete in 2-3 years as technology changes so rapidly. Labor costs take up another big chunk of expenses.
  • Franchising has not worked in this market, as a growth model. Those that got into the business prior to 2009 had a poor understanding of the business, spent too much on marketing, didn’t control expenses, and they forecasted overly optimistic revenues.
  • In 2009-2011 there was a major shake-out that weeded out the poor operators, as the recession hit and consumers cut back on luxury expenditures provided by med spas. The price of treatments is falling, as competition rises and laser equipment becomes more efficient.
  • Non-surgical cosmetic procedures are generally safe when performed by properly trained and supervised providers. But the explosive growth in procedures – 123% in 10 years, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons – coupled with little state oversight, means consumers must be more cautious than ever about who they hire. State laws on who can perform minimally invasive procedures and whether a doctor needs to be present vary widely.

“Obstacles that have limited med spa success in the past have included widely varying state regulations, botched procedures resulting from improper use of laser machines, poor expense controls, and a spate of failed franchises. However, most of these issues have been resolved and the business lessons have been learned,” according to Research Director, John LaRosa.


Medical Spas: A Market Analysis, published in November 2012, is an independently researched “off-the-shelf” study. The study is 127 pages in length, has 32 tables, and costs $1,495. It is also sold by individual chapters at lower cost. For the research, Marketdata interviewed market consultants, owners/operators of med spas, laser equipment manufacturers, trade associations, spa industry magazines, and many others, in conjunction with custom Marktdata online and secondary sources.

This study examines the med spas market structure and history, revenues/growth, key market trends and issues, effects of the recession, consumer demand factors and demographics, extensive med spa operating ratios--results of three separate surveys, laser technology and suppliers, why franchising failed, investment, etc. Covers national revenues (2002-2011 estimates, 2012, 2013 & 2016 forecasts).


Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., is a 34-year old independent market research and consulting firm that publishes market and industry studies covering a wide range of service businesses. John LaRosa is available for interviews (813-907-9090). A free report table of contents is available by mail, fax., email or the Web. Contact: Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., 8903 Regents Park Drive, Suite 120, Tampa, FL 33647, or see http://www.marketdataenterprises.com

Contact Information

John LaRosa,
Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., Tampa, FL
Phone: 813-907-9090
Fax: 813-907-3606


email: john(at)marketdataenterprises(dot)com

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Marketdata Enterprises Inc.
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