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Belly Friendly Highlights Prenatal Spa Programs in September

Dubbed the “biggest birth month” as more newborns arrived in September than in any other month, according to Babycenter, Belly Friendly, a prenatal education, recognition and marketing program for spas, is spotlighting prenatal spa treatments to consumers during the month of September. We talk to founder Stacy Denny about her program and how spas can benefit from becoming Belly Friendly.

“More than 16,000 pregnant women enter the market every day in the U.S., making this a prevalent, yet underserved market segment. The program is designed to encourage moms who may have never considered a prenatal spa service to try one at a Belly Friendly spa,” Denny says of the promotion, where spas that are a part of the Belly Friendly program are offering a $50 gift certificate for a future service to moms who book a prenatal service in September 2012. Denny also founded the prenatal spa Barefoot & Pregnant in 2003. “By offering the incentive to come back during the pregnancy, we avoid standard ‘discounting’ and have more opportunity to create a relationship.”

Denny created Belly Friendly after she realized the demand for specialized services that pregnant moms could trust.

“Not only were moms from across the country contacting us to find similar spas [to Barefoot & Pregnant] located in their area, I received dozens of calls from spa owners interested in creating a Barefoot & Pregnant environment,” Denny says. “To make the award-winning concept more available to spas and moms, I developed the Belly Friendly program which launched in January 2012.”

Partnering with Belly Friendly

Belly Friendly helps spas to be more proficient in catering to expecting moms through training programs and marketing support. To join, the spa must already offer a prenatal service and have specially trained therapists who perform the services. Belly Friendly requires this to filter out spas that either aren’t interested or don’t understand the impact of the prenatal spa market, Denny says. Once the commitment is made, all spa staff must complete the online training to be marketed as a Belly Friendly spa.

“As a Belly Friendly spa partner, spas receive extensive marketing support directly to the prenatal market via grass roots medical and community outreach, strategic relationships such as Fit Pregnancy magazine and TheBump, and online,” Denny explains. “We have strategic partnerships with key pregnancy media, and are able to leverage those relationships to help our partners receive exposure within the pregnancy industry – an industry that is difficult to reach for spas that need to focus on overall business goals and don’t have the resources to allocate to a specific niche.”

Spas also receive professionally designed collateral materials and marketing templates that can be easily customized and printed on demand, as well as a Belly Friendly “seal of approval.”

The online education portion is designed to help all spa employees—from the front desk and managers to therapists — understand the pregnancy experience and create a pregnancy-friendly environment. The education ranges from the myths and faux pas of pregnancy to what a mom is experiencing by trimester.

“It also provides an important segment focused on building therapist confidence  as we often see therapists that are specially trained continue to struggle with their fears and doubts in working with expecting moms,” says Denny. “The Belly Friendly education program enhances existing training; it does not replace the need for specialized prenatal massage training.”

So, what’s most important about a prenatal spa program?

“Safety and confidence,” says Denny. “If both the spa staff and the client feel safe and confident in the treatments that they are giving and receiving, then both will benefit from the experience. The key is removing the ‘modality’ from prenatal massage, and treating it as the experience that it is; this isn’t hot stone reflexology – this is a life changing experience that lasts for 40 weeks.  To treat it as a check mark on a spa menu does both client and spa a disservice.”

Spas across the country are partnering with Belly Friendly to become the destination in their communities for expecting moms, including many SpaFinder® Wellness spas like Guerlain Spa at Waldorf Astoria, New York; YeloSpa, New York; Hotel Healdsburg & Spa in Healdsburg, California; Valencia Day Spa in Frisco, Texas; Elixir Mind Body in Denver; and many more.

Some interesting stats: Barefoot & Pregnant and Mama Mio conducted an online survey in May and June 2011 that found that nearly all moms (95%) surveyed said they would be more likely to visit a spa with specialized prenatal training over another spa. More than 60% of respondents received prenatal spa treatments during pregnancy; 38% booked two to three spa services throughout their pregnancy; and 28% booked four or more services. Of those surveyed, 30% brought friends and family to the spa for accompanying services.  And, more than 60% of moms continue to visit the same spa post-pregnancy.

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Happy Older People Live Longer: How to Market to Silver Spa-ers

Are you marketing to your boomer-and-beyond clientele? If so, you may just be helping them live longer.

Older people who are happy, even for a little while, have a 35% lower risk of dying than those who were least happy, according to a British study, of which the results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study is a part of the longest-running British study on aging.

Because the findings emphasize the importance of emotional well-being for older people, we’re thinking that the spa can definitely be one way to make older people feel great — not only emotionally, but physically as well. And we all know that good health plays a pivotal role in how great you feel about your life and yourself.

Not only can spa have a great effect on their lives, with the immense 65-plus demographic and their buying power, these silver spa-ers also have a massive impact on the spa industry.

Savvy spas should be rethinking everything to address these all-too-often-ignored niche’s specific needs: from facilities, to equipment, to programming, to marketing and staffing. Physical therapy, rehabilitation, recuperation and just plain old pain relief have increased on spas’ menus, to meet the needs of clientele with back, neck, knee and mobility issues. Hosting a special happy hour of sorts for seniors, perhaps during the mornings when business might otherwise be slow is another way to further reel this group of clients in. Many spas are even using bigger print for their spa menus!

Here are a few other forward-thinking examples from SpaFinder’s 2011 Spa Trends Report:

  • Fairmont’s Willow Stream Spas are adding an extensive muscle and joint program promising pain relief. We’ve been seeing more spas (modeled after a Canyon Ranch) featuring exercise physiologists, sports medicine professionals, chiropractors, orthopedics, naturopaths and physical therapists on staff (or on call).
  • Spa bathing, known for pain-relief benefits, relaxation and at times, detox assistance, is experiencing a resurgence in general, and is a perfect fit for older clientele. Some examples of specialized bathing experiences include the Scandinave and Le Nordic models in Canada, the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun in Japan, or the lucrative Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Southern California. Prior research has concurred that the number-one reason people go to spas is to “relax and de-stress,” but in some regions of the world that may soon be replaced by to “relieve aches and pains.”
  • Using the term “corrective” — “corrective” massage, “corrective” facials, etc., and for the already used-to-death term “anti-aging” can help boomers pinpoint which treatments they may be interested in due to age.
  • Integrating specialized offerings such as the Biofreeze Pain Management massage; infrared saunas, which function at far-less searing heat (but penetrate heat further into the body than a traditional sauna); and new chilled loungers that accomplish what cold plunge pools do, but are more comfortable and safer for older guests, can also bring in more silver spa-ers.
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In Demand: Complimentary & Alternative Medical Services

It appears that more people than ever want complementary and alternative medical services, including services like reiki…and even hospitals are listening.

In fact, according to a recent article from the American Medical Association, the number of hospitals offering complementary and alternative medical services has tripled since 2000, with 42 percent of the 714 hospitals surveyed stating that they provide unconventional therapies. Hospital executives listed patient demand as the top criterion in choosing which therapies to offer, according to a report released in September by the American Hospital Association’s Health Forum and the Samueli Institute, a think tank that supports alternative medicine. In 2000, just 14% of hospitals told AHA researchers that they provided complementary therapies.

“They are responding to the needs of their patients and the communities they are serving, while trying to differentiate themselves in the marketplace,” said Sita Ananth, a Samueli Institute researcher who wrote the report, in the AMA article. “These hospitals are really trying to see how they can address the needs of the person as a whole — mind, body and spirit.”

Nearly two-thirds of hospitals offering alternative services provide massages on an outpatient basis, and half offer pet therapy in the hospital. About 40 percent of these hospitals offer acupuncture or music and art therapies, and one in five alternative-friendly hospitals provides reiki,  said the report, based on a survey conducted in March 2010.

About 70% of executives at hospitals providing unconventional therapies said they are doing so because they are clinically effective. This is in line with SpaFinder’s 2011 Trend Report, which highlights evidence-based medicine as a driver in the spa industry.

While there are plenty of spas that have been offering alternative therapies for a while now, perhaps medical and wellness spas that don’t may benefit by including a few alternative and complementary therapies in conjunction with its medical spa services, as Ananth said that the alternative therapies are intended to supplement conventional medical interventions.

“Many of these services are low-risk,” she said in the published article. “Patients are looking for the best of what both conventional and complementary therapies can offer, and hospitals are responding by offering these choices.”

Medical spas: Do you offer alternative therapies and how responsive are your clients? To help you in your research in implementing new therapies to your treatment menu, check out Spa Evidence. It’s the world’s first portal designed to help people explore the medical evidence that exists for spa and wellness therapies. The site covers 22 modalities, from acupressure to yoga, and has aggregated all of the evidence-based research from four respected databases. The best part about it is it’s free!  The portal also has logos and banners available for download that you can add directly to your website; and, for those looking to customize, there is a “white label” option (cost associated) by SelfOptima, the portal’s developer.

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Laser Hair Removal Proves Popular in Summer Months

Pushing laser hair removal services, especially during warmer months, can potentially drive sales, as warmer weather lends itself to an increased popularity for hair removal procedures.

With day spas integrating summer treatments into their menus, medical spas are also seeing a seasonal trend with a heightened interest in laser hair removal, especially in Southern California, according to Dr. Richard Foxx, medical director and founder of The Medical and Skin Spa at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Villas and Spa in Indian Wells, California. The Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Villas and Spa was named one of SpaFinder’s 2010 Reader’s Choice winners for Best Medical Spa Program.

“People want to feel confident and comfortable about their appearance during the summer, because they are wearing more revealing clothes such as swimsuits or shorts,” Dr. Foxx says. “That’s why the interest in cosmetic treatments like laser hair removal or Botox® Cosmetic in Southern California usually increases during this time.”

Dr. Foxx uses the CoolGlide® Laser made by Cutera® at his medical spa for hair removal procedures. This highly sophisticated laser equipment is FDA-approved and can treat a variety of skin tones. In contrast to many other lasers, CoolGlide is effective on all parts of the body, including the face, legs, arms, underarms and back. In addition, it can be used on more sensitive areas, such as the bikini line. Each session lasts between a few minutes to an hour or two, depending on the size of the area being treated. Usually a series of treatments are needed to provide the best results, but once complete, the effects can be permanent.

“The CoolGlide laser that we offer at The Medical and Skin Spa is undoubtedly one of the most effective methods of permanent hair reduction available,” Dr. Foxx notes. “It’s a simple, comfortable procedure that requires no anesthesia, no downtime, and has minimal side effects.”

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Equinox Partners with Spa 7 to Offer Medical Spa Treatments

Equinox is taking the definition of wellness beyond just fitness with a new partnership with Spa 7 medical spa. While the health club chain already has spas at four of its clubs, Spa 7 will bring laser-based medical treatments, such as laser hair removal, skin rejuvenation, skin tightening, body contouring and more, to two West Hollywood, California, Equinox clubs by fall of this year. The new full-service trilogy of fitness, day spa and medical spa has already rolled out in one West Hollywood location.

“We have the most innovative procedures but clients also get to reap the benefits of the use the gym and spa facility the day of their treatment,” Pamela Yager, co-founder and spa director of Spa 7, told SpaFinder, adding that there is the potential of spreading beyond West Hollywood. “They’ll get to go to classes, use equipment, and go on the spa sun deck. We’re delivering on Equinox’s tagline, ‘It’s not fitness, it’s life.’”

Nicole Vitale, senior director of spa at Equinox said that because Spa 7 has a good reputation in California, it seemed like a great fit.

“We always want to expand our services and offer everything we could,” Vitale told SpaFinder. “We’re excited to have them on board and I think it will be a great partnership going forward with everyone learning what they do from laser hair removal to body sculpting, and the photofacials that they do are great.”

The biggest point of differentiation for Spa 7 is that it’s the only spa offering the new Solar Facial treatment in the country, Yager added. This treatment offers fillers without injections. More information will be rolling out soon.

“It’s sort of a one-stop shop concept,” Yager said. “I like to use the saying ‘We know you’re getting it; get it here.’”

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Plastic Surgery Defies Recession, Group Botox on the Rise

Photo via Flickr user stevendepoloPlastic surgery procedures increased nearly 10 percent from 2009 to 2010 with more than 9.3 million surgical and non-surgical procedures logged in 2010, at a cost of nearly $11 billion, according to Dr. Grant Stevens, chairman of the media relations committee of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), which commissioned a study released this month. Dr. Stevens is also a board certified plastic surgeon and founder of Marina Plastic Surgery Associates in Marina del Rey, CA.

“We were surprised and thrilled to see increases in a variety of areas because it points to a positive change in economic indicators for 2010 – 2011,” said Dr. Stevens. “In my own practice, I’ve seen a major increase in demand by men – the study showed an increase overall of 88 percent since 1997, breast lifts, and generally a bigger caseload proving that beauty is recession proof.”

Patients between the ages of 35 and 50 accounted for 44 percent of the total, the majority of any age group.  Requests for liposuction, eyelid surgery and abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) topped the list of most requested surgical procedures, according to Dr. Stevens.

“According to the ASAPS study, 19 percent of the patients belong to an ethnic minority,” Dr. Stevens said. “That’s a major uptick, since traditionally many surgery practices have catered to white women. It’s great news.”  He added that laser procedures, including laser hair removal, as well as chemical peels and breast reduction, are also popular and getting more so.

“The ASAPS study demonstrates that people of all ages and races want to look better, be it for themselves, a significant other or because they are seeking employment,” Dr. Stevens said.

Also, Botox was far and away the most requested non-surgical procedure. In fact, Anita Wolf, a registered nurse at Madison Skin and Laser Center in New York has noticed that what was once a procedure done in secret is becoming a group activity.

“In the past we found that people didn’t want anyone to know they were receiving Botox or filler injections,” Wolf said. “Today, they are happy to attend a Botox party with friends, sisters, brothers, and even their moms and receive treatment together, so we’ve added a party element including free food and beverages and giveaways,” states Wolf who has worked in aesthetic medicine for over seven years.

The medical spa will be hosting a Botox/Filler Party on April 19th, just in time for Mother’s Day.

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An Injectable That Fills in the Blanks

sculptraOnce intended as a facial tissue plumper for HIV patients, Sculptra®, a synthetic injectable material made from Poly-L-Lactic acid, is now being widely used in the offices of plastic surgeons and medical spas around the country.



Sculptra® acts as a long-lasting filler to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, lines, and furrows around your mouth, eyes, cheeks, and lips. It is injected deep into the tissue below the skin to spur a patient’s collagen growth gradually. The effects can last up to two years once optimum results are achieved, while comparable injectables last a year or less. This is one of the only products approved by the FDA that works gradually to achieve a longer lasting, natural result.         



There are some disadvantages to using Sculptra®.  It can take several treatments to achieve desired results, usually 3 to 6 treatments spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart. Also, after receiving the treatment, the injected area needs to be massaged for up to a week to help distribute the product.



The biggest drawback of this product is the risk of developing bumps beneath the skin. Some bumps are visible and may be caused by either undispersed Sculptra® or not injecting it deep enough into the skin.  These bumps appear in approximately 8.6 percent of patients and will disappear over time or can be dissolved by injecting hyaluronidase in the area.



The cost of Sculptra® can vary, with the cost of most vials ranging from $800 to $1,200. Although it is more costly than similar treatments that last a shorter period of time, 75 percent of patients will spend the money for long-lasting results (two years).


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FDA Approves 12-Month Labeling for Evolence®

The makers of Botox®, Juvéderm®, and Restylane® are bracing for some stiff competition. There’s a new dermal filler on the market, with claims of being the first and only collagen-based filler to last one year. The FDA recently approved the labeling of Ortho Dermatologics’s Evolence®, a collagen-based dermal filler made from pig tendons, used for the correction of moderate to deep facial wrinkles and folds, such as nasolabial folds.


Evolence® is the first and only dermal filler recognized to provide results through 12 months after an initial treatment. The filler was first introduced to the U.S. in 2008, having previously been approved in 2004 and 2005 for use in Canada, Western and Eastern Europe, Israel, South Korea, and Russia.  Several doctors surveyed about the new filler predicted that Evolence® will account for 20 to 50 percent of their filler business by next year, if it performs as expected.


“Physicians can now offer patients an all-natural dermal filler that provides beautiful and immediate results for significantly longer than any other collagen dermal filler,” said Annie Heremans, M.D., Ph.D., and vice president at Ortho Dermatologics, where she is responsible for the company’s research and development of the Medical and Aesthetic Dermatology franchises.


Evolence® seems to be the next generation of facial fillers, one that lasts twice as long as traditional fillers. The filler is too thick to be injected into the lips, but a thinner version called Evolence Breeze® is available in Europe, and the company plans to debut it in the U.S. within the next few years.

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FDA Approves new ALMA Accent XL Laser

accent_xlWrinkles and cellulite be gone!  The FDA-approved ALMA Accent XL  is a must-have for the elimination of wrinkles and rhytids and the tightening of skin.  The Accent XL provides long lasting results that will leave your clients not only looking, but feeling like a million bucks.


The Accent system provides Volumetric RF (Radio Frequency) Thermotherapy, combining different proprietary RF modes of BiPolar and UniPolar.  With separate hand pieces for each, the Accent XL provides therapeutic heat at different tissue depths within the body, treating both the dermal and sub-dermal skin layers.  It can penetrate anywhere from two to six millimeters into the skin, reaching both the fatty tissue and cellulite.  Heating to these tissue depths improves circulation, initiates a breakdown of fibrous tissue, and promotes the re-absorption and draining of retained fluids and toxins.  In addition to the controlled heating is simultaneous cooling, which serves to protect the skin.


This advanced technology involves no down-time and a minimal risk of side effects.  Unlike other cellulite laser technologies, progress is visible immediately after each session.  Results begin as soon as treatment takes place, and improvements to the skin continue as new collagen grows with every treatment.  Collagen fibers in the skin contract and multiply when the Accent XL is used, which in turn helps to improving skin laxity.  Connective tissue contracts to improve the skin’s contour, texture, and architecture.  In addition, circulation improves and retained fluids drain from subcutaneous adipose tissue to reduce edema, erythema, and overall volume.


The Accent XL has been used successfully in multiple areas on the body such as abdomen, buttocks, thighs, arms, and upper chest, as well as on the face.  The body and facial contouring and skin tightening effects occur without any invasive measures, which makes the Accent XL desirable to patients. This ALMA technology will enable you to say hello to new clients while your clients say hello to new skin!

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Sowing the Seeds for Success: A Lesson in Wine and Spa


It was in the lush vineyards of Château Smith Haut Lafitte that Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas first began to daydream about creating a spa experience that would combine their love of wine with health and wellness. The Thomases’ dream of creating this experience came true in 1993, as their beauty company, Caudalie, which is named for a unit of sensory measure corresponding to one second, defining the taste of wine after swallowing, was born.


It was during a chance encounter on the family vineyard with a professor from the nearby university that the Thomases realized that the discarded grape seeds at the end of the harvest contained powerful anti-aging properties. It seemed the skins and stems of wine grapes also possessed rich polyphenols and resveratol. Resveratol has great antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, reduces levels of “bad” cholesterol, and prevents blood clots.


It was shortly after the professor’s discovery that Mathilde and Bertrand began researching the grape seeds and patented their first three products in 1993. Today Caudalie offers 35 products, with the brand sold at Nordstroms, Henri Bendel, Blue Mercury, select Bath & Body Works, and independent specialty cosmetic boutiques.


The Thomases are credited with creating both the world’s first wine spa, Les Sources de Caudalie, which opened in 1999, as well as the official term vinothérapie. Caudalie’s Vinothérapie Spas use the grapes to make their signature Crushed Cabernet Scrub and Honey and Wine Wrap, to name just two. With the success of Caudalie’s skin line and spa, the couple decided to expand and create three other spas.


Following in Caudalie’s footsteps, many spas around the globe have added vinotherapy treatments to their menus. Many see that the health benefits are plentiful, as are the physical effects of wine treatments. Following vinotherapy baths or massages, customers claim to feel relaxed and rejuvenated. The flavonoids in these treatments also fight wrinkles and are 10,000 times stronger than Vitamin E and 50 times more effective, so skin is left feeling soft and glowing.


It’s not surprising that Caudalie is such a revered beauty brand with premier spas. It’s Mathilde and Bertrand’s true passion and pride in their company that have helped their business succeed in every aspect. The couple’s impeccable taste in furniture and art can be seen at their Vinothérapie Spa at the Plaza: They even have an 800-square-foot wine lounge stocked with wine from all over the world. An on-site sommelier, who hosts wine tastings between treatments, and the smell of toasted oak, created specially by Mathilde, combine to make a spa experience one will not soon forget. It seems the couple has found a true recipe for business success and spa perfection!

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