AmSpa Seeks Clarity for Illinois Medical Spas Regarding Re-opening

Posted By American Med Spa Association, Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Recent government orders have caused confusion among businesses, leading many owners to ask, “Can I re-open?” Medical spas are caught in a gray area and, unfortunately, in states such as Illinois, very little guidance is available.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recently signed an executive order extending many executive orders until the end of May; this includes the “stay-at-home” requirements and closure of many “non-essential” businesses. Current Department of Health guidance is clear that elective outpatient procedures could resume on May 11 at ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and hospitals. On its initial reading, this appears to greenlight voluntary medical procedures, including aesthetic services such as Botox, lip fillers and laser resurfacing.
However, the guidance is very clear that these elective outpatient procedures may be resumed only at hospitals and ASCs. No mention is made of elective procedures at other facilities like medical spas.
Medical spas provide non-invasive (i.e. non-surgical) aesthetic treatments, such as Botox, lip fillers, and laser hair removal. The industry has exploded over recent years, generating more than $10 billion in revenue annually and employing more than 53,000 workers nationwide.
The lack of guidance is problematic because it shoehorns medical spas into an ill-defined no man’s land. Medical spas have not been deemed “essential” because they offer elective, non-essential medical procedures, but at the same time, they most definitely are not regulated as hospitals or ambulatory surgery centers.
“Unfortunately, the Department of Health has unwittingly created a situation where medical spas are stalled on the side of the road,” says Alex R. Thiersch, JD, founder and CEO of the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa). “While I’m sure it was unintentional, the drafting of the guidance leaves Illinois medical spas without guidance on how to proceed.”
The recent economic shutdown has brought the entire medical spa industry to a standstill, resulting in significant layoffs and disruption to a once-booming vertical.
Illinois medical spas had hoped to receive some guidance as to when they could begin offering services again, but the latest orders offer nothing of the sort to an industry that offers very desired—but medically unnecessary—aesthetic treatments.
“Medical spas are not covered under the wording of the current order, either as being allowed to open or as being directed to stay closed,” Thiersch says. “There’s a lot of confusion out there as to what to do and, unfortunately we’ve not been able to get any response or guidance.”
The recent executive orders allow salons and other related businesses to open at the end of May, but again, medical spas are not mentioned in this vertical either. This leaves medical spas wondering what to do, because opening in violation of the order could result in fines or discipline against the providers’ medical or nursing licenses.
For now, Thiersch says AmSpa is recommending that Illinois medical spas remain closed until further guidance can be obtained.
“The prudent thing to do is remain closed until we can get more clarity,” Thiersch says. “We are working hard to have the governor’s office provide guidance so we can start planning how to move forward, like the rest of Illinois businesses."