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Choose a Medical-Spa Treatment, Then Learn How to Schedule It

BY: KATE RAFTERY | 10.21.2016 |

You’ve researched the aesthetic services you want to get. You’ve selected the medical spa that most appeals to you. You’re ready to take the plunge and actually schedule an appointment for that cellulite treatment or intensive skincare service. But now you wonder: Will you have to take off work afterward? How long will a full course of treatments take? How long will you have to wait between appointments?

Thankfully, most med spas are in the business of providing minimally invasive or noninvasive procedures that require little to no downtime. Your care provider will explain your particular situation, but we’ve corralled information about many common treatments as a starting point.

Book a few days apart

Body wraps

You can schedule body wraps every few days, but most people get them infrequently—in anticipation of a special occasion or a vacation, for example. Each warm, cocoon-like wrap may chip inches off your waist and temporarily minimize the appearance of cellulite by inducing perspiration and plumping up the skin.

Zerona fat reduction

Choose a Medical-Spa Treatment, Then Learn How to Schedule It | Body Contouring

The equipment’s low-level laser penetrates through the skin and into the fat cells, purportedly to break down their walls and release their contents. Your body metabolizes the contents, leaving the fat cells on the waist, hips, and thighs smaller than they were before. The Zerona website recommends at least 6 treatments, spaced about 48 hours apart, for optimal results.

The noninvasive procedure doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort and doesn’t require any downtime. Therefore, you can start an additional set of treatments immediately after you finish the initial course.

Additional reading

Book two or more weeks apart

VelaShape fat reduction

VelaShape combines the powers of radio-frequency waves, infrared light, and vacuum suction to help shrink fat cells, contour the skin, and reshape the collagen that contributes to the appearance of cellulite. It feels like a warm deep-tissue massage—consider it virtually painless and free of downtime. Practitioners generally recommend 3–4 biweekly treatments; results can stick around for up to 4 weeks. You can resume VelaShape sessions as the results dissipate.

Ultrasonic-cavitation fat reduction

Noninvasive ultrasonic cavitation, meanwhile, targets treatments areas with low-frequency sound waves designed to liquefy fat cells, promote collagen production, and contour skin. Proponents recommend 8–12 treatments—with a few days in between—for optimal results. Most patients wait a couple of weeks for the changes to take hold before resuming the no-downtime treatments or moving on to a different area of localized fat.

i-Lipo fat reduction

Like Zerona, i-Lipo and other laser-assisted weight-loss treatments use the heat energy from penetrating laser beams to help break down fat cells. For maximum results, you’ll need 6–8 treatments spread out over a month or two; many patients see changes after just a few appointments. The results last a few weeks at a time, so you can resume the noninvasive treatments every other week to help maintain the slimming effect.

IPL skin treatment

Choose a Medical-Spa Treatment, Then Learn How to Schedule It | Photofacial

Photofacials and similar IPL treatments fight common skin concerns, including fine lines, age spots, rosacea, acne, stretch marks, broken capillaries, and irregular pigmentation, with high-intensity pulses of visible light. You might experience heat or a snapping-rubber-band sensation; redness and swelling might persist for a few hours afterward.

One IPL photorejuvenation session is enough to see a difference, but 4–6 are generally recommended. Because the after-effects and sensitivity to sunlight can last as long as 2 weeks, you should schedule appointments far enough apart so as not to further irritate your skin.

Additional reading

Book two or more months apart

Endermologie body sculpting

Endermologie’s lipo-massage device has motorized rollers that lift and knead the skin. The process is meant to stimulate lipolysis—the shrinking of fat cells—and increase collagen production. Generally, 6 treatments are necessary to produce a noticeable improvement that lasts a few weeks. After that course, a treatment every month or so should be enough for maintenance.

Zeltiq fat reduction

Zeltiq CoolSculpting chills fat cells until they crystallize. (The dead, frozen cells are easier for the lymphatic system to process than those at body temperature.) Typically, one treatment per area is enough, but some people require additional sessions. Results can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 4 months to fully materialize, so you should wait that long before undergoing more CoolSculpting. In the meantime, you can treat other areas of stubborn localized fat.

Laser hair removal

Choose a Medical-Spa Treatment, Then Learn How to Schedule It | Laser Hair Removal

The efficacy of laser hair removal is dependent on affecting hair follicles in the anagen stage, or the actively growing phase. Because different follicles reach the anagen stage at different times, practitioners must perform multiple sessions to target every follicle in each treatment area. The hair-growth cycle generally dictates 4–6 noninvasive treatments spread 4–8 weeks apart for optimal results.

If you’re hoping to have smooth skin by a certain event or milestone, our guide to laser hair removal for brides is a good resource. You’ll be looking at 9–12 months in total for legs or the bikini line and 6–9 months for underarms.


During microdermabrasion, a minimally abrasive instrument buffs the skin, removing the topmost layer and reducing the appearance of fine lines, discoloration, acne, and dullness. At first, your aesthetician will probably schedule you for two treatments within a month. Because you’ll probably experience redness, swelling, and dryness for a brief period, a couple of weeks between those appointments is recommended. Thereafter, you can book a microdermabrasion every two months or so for upkeep.


Microneedling is one of the medical-spa services classified as minimally invasive. It’s not surgery, but it does involve inflicting pinprick-like injuries on the skin. The purpose is to induce collagen production for smoother, firmer skin. If you’re treating more superficial conditions like light acne scarring and enlarged pores, it’ll probably require 3–5 sessions; deeper scarring and wrinkles may call for more sessions. The after effects are similar to those of microdermabrasion, so you should space your microneedling appointments a couple months apart, too.

Additional reading

Book four to six months apart

Radio-frequency body contouring

Thermage is a contouring device that uses radio-frequency waves to heat and reshape subcutaneous collagen, which is partly responsible for cellulite and skin laxity. Although mitigated by a cooling mechanism, the heat is said to cause uncomfortable soreness that could result in minimal downtime. However, Thermage only requires one treatment per area. And with results that last 6–12 months, you can wait a while before scheduling your next appointment.

Botox injections

Injectables are another form of minimally invasive med-spa services. Botox, perhaps the most well-known, is FDA-approved for treating crow’s-feet and frown lines on the forehead. These areas begin to look smoothed over within 48 hours of the injections, and the results last up to 4 months. At that point, you should feel free to get more.

Dysport injections

Similar to Botox, Dysport is used to soften the appearance of frown lines on the forehead, known more technically as glabellar lines. Optimal results appear in a few days and last up to 4 months.

Restylane injections

This injectable helps plump up lips and smooth facial folds and wrinkles, particularly the laugh lines around the nose and mouth. Redness and swelling at the injection sites can last 7–14 days, but the dermal filler’s immediate results may last up to 6 months. If you get a follow-up treatment at 4.5 or 9 months—usually with half the dosage—your results may last as long as 18 months.

Additional reading

Book a year or more apart

Juvéderm injections

Another dermal filler, Juvéderm has two different formulations for different purposes. Juvéderm XC is designed to smooth laugh lines, and its immediate results last up to 1 year. Juvéderm Voluma XC treats hollowed-out cheeks by lifting skin and restoring volume. You can resume normal activities within 24 hours; the results last up to 2 years. Common side effects for both include redness, swelling, and bruising at the injection sites.

Additional reading

Guide Staff Writer
BY: Kate Raftery Guide Staff Writer