Offering everything from laser hair removal to Botox to microneedling to CoolSculpting, med spas are growing in popularity. While these procedures are less invasive than surgery, it’s still important to do your research before booking your first appointment. We spoke to top injectors on RealSelf, who gave us their essential tips for choosing the right med spa.


1. Verify qualifications and experience

Make sure your provider has the proper qualifications for the treatment you want. Laws vary state by state on who can practice without a doctor’s supervision, and who can perform certain procedures. Check local laws and ask to see licenses, certifications and qualifications.

“The No. 1 thing is to do your research,” says Melissa Berg, a nurse injector who splits her time between patients in Montana and Washington. “Ask and find out who will be doing the injections. Are they an RN or above, and if they are an RN, do they have a medical director on site?”

“If they are RN, NP, PA or MD, ask how long they’ve been injecting,” she continues. “Don’t be afraid to ask them to see before and after photos of work they’ve done, and ask about their training and years of experience.”


2. Ask about what will happen during your appointment

Susan Cole, the practice manager at Mabrie Facial Cosmetic in San Francisco, says that a great med spa will explain everything that will happen during your appointment, including “duration, time with a doctor/nurse, treatment and follow-up.”

Your consult is a great time to talk about preparing for your treatment, too. Should you avoid certain things? Should you take any vitamins or supplements? These questions should be addressed before you even get into the provider’s chair.


3. Request before and after photos

Before and after photos of their work, especially those submitted by the patients themselves, are some of the most valuable information when deciding on a provider.

“Every injector has a different style and view of what they believe is aesthetically pleasing to the eye,” says Marta Paul, founder at Nova Aesthetics in San Antonio, Texas. “I recommend reviewing several before and after photos from many providers to find the injector whose results match what you’re are looking for.”


Related: 5 foolproof tips to find an awesome injector


4. Check online reviews and talk to friends

Reading reviews from other people and asking friends and family about their experiences is a great way to determine if the med spa’s a good fit for you.

“Online reviews from actual patients is also a great way to make sure the med spa you choose is one with credibility,” says Paul. “Read through any reviews you can find, and check that the med spa has a good reputation and high level of patient satisfaction.”

“Word of mouth is huge,” says Berg. “Typically, when people have a great experience or a really bad experience, they’re going to be motivated to tell the world about it.”

“If your trusted friend went somewhere and had a really negative experience, chances are you wouldn’t want to pick that as your clinic,” she continues. “If they were really thrilled with the staff, injector and their outcome, chances are they provide that type of service to everyone who walks through the door.”


5. Looks matter

Take a good look around the med spa. Is it a nice building that’s kept up? Is it clean and organized?

“Cleanliness and sterility are important when having aesthetics procedures performed,” says Paul. “The facility must be up-to-date with equipment and medications in the rare event of an adverse side effect.”


6. Know all your options

What works for your friend might not be the ideal treatment for you. Paul says it’s important that your med spa offers multiple solutions and tailors the treatment experience to your unique situation and desired result.

“No two faces are alike,” she says. “It is important that the facility has many different modalities, and that they’re well-versed in all things aesthetics to offer the perfect customized treatment.”


Related: 5 Botox myths, debunked


7. Discuss post-treatment care and support

Talk to your provider about potential complications and how to get support, if necessary.

“Always ask your injector if something were to go wrong, what is your protocol? Are you available after-hours? How can I get a hold of you?” says Berg. “I let all my clients know that if there is an issue, or if they have any questions, they can reach our clinic 24/7.”

“I also have everyone back two weeks after their first Botox or filler treatment to look at everything and develop a future plan,” she adds. “They love that last little bit of touch to their treatment. Also, it’s great to ask if something went wrong, do you have everything on site to treat complications? If they say no and that they’ll send you to another practitioner, don’t let them touch your face.”


8. Trust your gut

Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s true: you have to listen to your intuition.

“As humans, we have a huge understanding of our own bodies,” says Berg. “If something seems off, or we don’t feel comfortable about the situation, there is nothing wrong then letting them know you’re not ready, and you need to think about things a little longer. Always follow your gut and your instincts. Chances are you’re 100% right.”