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California Summary of State Laws & Regulations
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California Frequently Asked Questions


Which procedures at medical spas constitute medical treatment?

Can a non-physician own all or part of a medical spa?

If I’m not a doctor, can I employ a “medical director” to provide medical services for my medical spa?

If I'm not a doctor, can I share in the profits of a medical spa?

If I’m not a doctor or a licensed practitioner, how can I make money from a medical spa.

What are the penalties for improperly owning a medical spa by violating the Corporate Practice of Medicine Doctrine?

I’ve heard that providing gift cards or reward programs in exchange for referrals is a “kickback.” Is this true? What are kickbacks?

Can a nurse, physician assistant or nurse practitioner take a commission for administering laser treatments or injectables like Botox?

Can a medical spa pay a person or entity to market the practice’s services?

Do I have to be a doctor to own medical spa equipment, like lasers, or real estate?

Can staff take commissions on non-medical retail products?

Do I need to charge sales tax on procedures like Botox?

Are Botox parties legal?

Who can legally fire a laser under California law?

a) What are laser technicians and can they operate lasers under proper supervision?

Who can legally inject Botox under California law?

Does a physician need to be on site during laser and intense pulse light (IPL) devices?

What is a medical assistant? What role do they play in a medical spa?

a) Should a medical assistant be licensed to practice in California?

b) What is the legal scope of medical assistants in California?

c) Should a medical assistant disclose, while working, his or her name and the practitioner’s license status on a nametag?

d) May medical assistants perform any procedure in a medical spa so long as they are properly supervised?

e) Are medical assistants allowed to pierce the skin?

f) Are medical assistants allowed to administer Botox or inject collagen?

Can a med spa hire an aesthetician to perform nonmedical dermabrasion, cosmetic facial and skin treatments?

Does a physician have to examine every new patient before the patient is treated at a med spa?

What about nurse practitioners and physician assistants? Can they see new patients or must a physician do it?

Does a medical spa need to obtain a license to operate?

Can a medical spa advertise its professional services?

a) How should a medical practice advertise its prices?

b) Can a medical spa include testimonials and endorsements by actual patients or models in its advertising?

c) Does a physician have to use his or her name in advertisements?

Can a medical spa offer discounts through Groupon or other similar social networking websites?

What type of records are medical spas required to keep of their patients?

When is a physician-patient relationship needed? How is it established? Is a physician-patient relationship established by a consultation?

What is informed consent?

a) Do all medical procedures require informed consent?

b) What information must a physician disclose to satisfy informed consent?

Can a med spa text or email patients to convey confidential medical information?

If a patient posted a message or a review on a medical spa’s social media page, can and how should the medical spa respond?

What is OSHA and does it apply to medical spas?

What is HIPAA?

Does California have its own version of HIPAA? How does it differ?

What is a DEA Registration Number?

What is the FDA and what do they do?

Is it legal to purchase drugs like Botox and fillers from overseas? From Canada, Europe, or Asia?

Can a chiropractor or dentist serve as a medical director?

Who can legally perform the following treatments: microneedling; lasers/light-emitting devices; dermaplaning; Coolsculpting; permanent makeup?



Which procedures at medical spas constitute medical treatment?

Medical spas were developed to offer certain aesthetic skin care procedures ...

Read more>>

Can a non-physician own all or part of a medical spa?

If a medical spa is a medical corporation, at least 51% ...

Read more>>

If I’m not a doctor, can I employ a “medical director” to provide medical services for my medical spa?

If a non-professional business owned by non-physicians employs a medical director ... 

Read more>>

If I'm not a doctor, can I share in the profits of a medical spa?

Non-physicians may share in the revenues of a medical spa through ... 

Read more>>

If I’m not a doctor or a licensed practitioner, how can I make money from a medical spa.

Non-physicians may may make money from a medical spa through ... 

Read more>>

What are the penalties for improperly owning a medical spa by violating the Corporate Practice of Medicine Doctrine?

An unlicensed person or entity that violates the ban on the corporate practice of medicine ... 

Read more>>

I’ve heard that providing gift cards or reward programs in exchange for referrals is a “kickback.” Is this true? What are kickbacks?

Under California law, it is considered a “kickback” if anything ...

Read more>>

Can a nurse, physician assistant or nurse practitioner take a commission for administering laser treatments or injectables like Botox?

A medical corporation or a physician may pay its employees ...

Read more>>

Can a medical spa pay a person or entity to market the practice’s services?

It is illegal to pay marketers on a ...

Read more>>

Do I have to be a doctor to own medical spa equipment, like lasers, or real estate?

An unlicensed person or entity may own ...

Read more>>

Can staff take commissions on non-medical retail products?

Staff may be compensated via commission for ...

Read more>>

Do I need to charge sales tax on procedures like Botox?

Typically sales tax must be charged for medical treatments like ... 

Read more>>

Are Botox parties legal?

In California, ...

Read more>>

Who can legally fire a laser under California law?

The California medical board has very clearly laid out which practitioners may ... 

Read more>>

a) What are laser technicians and can they operate lasers under proper supervision?

A cosmetic laser technician is usually a ...

Read more>>

Who can legally inject Botox under California law?

A person who injects Botox for cosmetic purposes is ...

Read more>>

Does a physician need to be on site during laser and intense pulse light (IPL) devices?

In California, ... 

Read more>>

What is a medical assistant? What role do they play in a medical spa?

A medical assistant (MA) is ...

Read more>>

a) Should a medical assistant be licensed to practice in California?

Medical assistants are by definition ...

Read more>>

b) What is the legal scope of medical assistants in California?

A medical assistant may undertake 4 general types of activities ...

Read more>>

c) Should a medical assistant disclose, while working, his or her name and the practitioner’s license status on a nametag?

All health care practitioners, including medical assistants ...

Read more>>

d) May medical assistants perform any procedure in a medical spa so long as they are properly supervised?

A medical assistant may only provide those services ...

Read more>>

e) Are medical assistants allowed to pierce the skin?

Medical assistants may only pierce the skin ...

Read more>>

f) Are medical assistants allowed to administer Botox or inject collagen?

The California Medical Board has specifically stated that medical assistants ...

Read more>>

What kind of physician supervision is needed for a registered nurse (RN) in a medical spa?

In California, ...

Read more>>

Can a med spa hire an aesthetician to perform nonmedical dermabrasion, cosmetic facial and skin treatments?

In California, medical spas ...

Read more>>

Does a physician have to examine every new patient before the patient is treated at a med spa?

In California, a physician ...

Read more>>

What about nurse practitioners and physician assistants? Can they see new patients or must a physician do it?

Physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) may ...

Read more>>

Does a medical spa need to obtain a license to operate?

In California, a medical spa is considered ...

Read more>>

Can a medical spa advertise its professional services?

In California, a medical spa ...

Read more>>

a) How should a medical practice advertise its prices?

Prices should be advertised ...

Read more>>

b) Can a medical spa include testimonials and endorsements by actual patients or models in its advertising?

Generally a medical spa ...

Read more>>

c) Does a physician have to use his or her name in advertisements?

In California, a physician ... 

Read more>>

Can a medical spa offer discounts through Groupon or other similar social networking websites?

The California legislature recently enacted legislation to ... 

Read more>>

What type of records are medical spas required to keep of their patients?

In California, medical spas ...

Read more>>

When is a physician-patient relationship needed? How is it established? Is a physician-patient relationship established by a consultation?

The physician-patient relationship is ...

Read more>>

What is informed consent?

Informed consent from a patient is ...

Read more>>

a) Do all medical procedures require informed consent?

Medical procedures ...

Read more>>

b) What information must a physician disclose to satisfy informed consent?

A physician must disclose ...

Read more>>

Can a med spa text or email patients to convey confidential medical information?

HIPAA allows ...

Read more>>

If a patient posted a message or a review on a medical spa’s social media page, can and how should the medical spa respond?

When communicating on social media, a medical spa should always ... 

Read more>>

What is OSHA and does it apply to medical spas?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, (OSHA), is a ...

Read more>>

What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is federal ...

Read more>>

Does California have its own version of HIPAA? How does it differ?

In California, ...

Read more>>

What is a DEA Registration Number?

A DEA registration number is a number ...

Read more>>

What is the FDA and what do they do?

The FDA is a regulatory agency that protects ...
Read more>>

Is it legal to purchase drugs like Botox and fillers from overseas? From Canada, Europe, or Asia?

While food, drugs, and medical devices are increasingly being ... 

Read more>>

Can a chiropractor or dentist serve as a medical director?

The term "medical director" ...

Read more>>

Who can legally perform the following treatments: microneedling; lasers/light-emitting devices; dermaplaning; Coolsculpting; permanent makeup?

Microneedling, laser or intense pulse light devices, dermabrasion (if it penetrates to deeper levels of the epidermis), and Coolsculpting ...

Read more>>


The information and answers contained in these frequently asked questions provide a general guide to certain laws that apply to "medical spas” in this particular state. The information contained on this site is for general reference only. This information is not intended to provide legal advice, and it should not be relied upon as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Readers: You should not act upon this information without seeking knowledgeable legal counsel that takes the laws of your jurisdiction into account. All uses of the content of this site, other than personal uses, are prohibited.

Summary updated December 2016

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