Medical Directors and Tattoo Removal Clinics

why your aesthetic practice

iStock_000070764911_Full.jpgAs entrepreneurs begin the process of building a laser tattoo removal business, they run into the state guidelines recommending or requiring medical supervision or the here-and-there role of a medical director. This medical director figure can come in many different forms, with as many different medical backgrounds, licenses, and locations in relation to the laser business.

While the regulations for laser tattoo removal are different in just about every state, the role of a medical director is similar across the country, with generally little being required of them, especially in terms of the day-to-day operation of the business. 

Here we will discuss the need for and use of a medical director, and also what the relationship looks like contractually and financially.



Who Needs a Medical Director?

shutterstock_89087416.jpgIn almost every single U.S. state and around the world, non-medical professionals may purchase and own a laser for tattoo removal. In just about as many places, non-medical personnel may operate the laser, too. There are very few districts that require the laser specialist to have medical training, let alone advanced medical training. It is outside of these stricter jurisdictions where a medical director is most relevant, required, and recommended.

In general, if the clinic is owned and operated by a physician (MD or DO), the need for a medical director is moot. If the laser clinic is owned by a non-medical entrepreneur, aesthetician, etc., it is suggested that the business have a medical director relationship established. While a medical director likely is, but may not be, specifically required in your state – it is a better business practice to have one in place.

For example, if you are starting your first business in the state of Colorado, naturally you would check the regulations during the due diligence process. During this process you may or may not find any clear regulations stating the need for “medical direction” or “medical supervision,” but it is in your best interest to obtain a prescribing medical practitioner just in case.

That brings up the next point of medical director responsibilities.

What Does a Medical Director Do?

Just as the regulations for laser tattoo removal and medical directors are different, the rules that do exist vary widely and allow for many interpretations of responsibilities. Your medical director may only email when she’s ready to renew the contract or be required to be physically on-site daily, check-in quarterly, or actively prescribe laser tattoo removal to clients.

Some of these responsibilities are reflective of just what licensing a medical director must have. Does a medical director need to be a physician? What about a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant? If a government identifies the requirement for medical supervision, it is typically declared to be a licensed physician. This brings up the question of physician specialty. Does the physician need to be a dermatologist? Someone who has worked with lasers in the past? As you will find out, no specialization is called out, and, in most cases, there are no explicit requirements for the physician to have training or experience with the laser device.

The most common guideline for a medical director-business relationship is that the physician be licensed in the state in which the laser business will be located, and that this supervising physician is “readily available” by phone or email. The “readily available” stipulation is to ensure that any medical questions or issues are addressed quickly, while the tattoo removal patient is still in-office.



How Much Does a Medical Director Cost?

iStock_000049392346_Full.jpgOnce (and if) it’s discovered that a physician medical director is needed to legally open a laser tattoo removal business, many people are deterred from proceeding with the business. This is a knee jerk reaction however, and it should be known that just because you have a physician on the payroll, does not mean that you are paying them $100,000+ per year.

Medical director pay is most commonly broken down in the form of a stipend – monthly, quarterly, or yearly. This allows for the relationship to be very black and white and hands-off. Other forms of pay structure include a business partnership, revenue sharing, or hourly pay, if applicable.

Overall, the cost of a medical director is as much as you would earn from about two or three patients each month; nothing compared to the revenue you will generate with the business.



Laser tattoo removal with quality, modern technology that has been serviced and maintained is generally safe. A trained laser practitioner would have to be working with malicious intent to severely hurt a patient. Given the, quite frankly, simple nature of the laser tattoo removal procedure, the need for medical direction is largely a formality imposed by state governments as a result of the procedure’s categorization as the practice of medicine.

Not all state laws require a medical director relationship, or one that requires a lengthy, in-depth contractual agreement. While it may not be required, a medical director is a nice thing to have. If for nothing but marketing purposes, concerned or apprehensive clients will likely be please with the added legitimacy.

Navigating the regulation waters may be tricky, but when the time comes to find a medical professional to fill the role, reach out to Astanza. We have helped thousands of entrepreneurs start their laser tattoo removal businesses by providing technology, training, and business consultation – including work with a medical director.

Click to view the webinar - How to Start a Laser Tattoo Removal Business

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