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When you think of a pedicure, you’re likely to imagine a relaxing ambiance, the smell of essential oils, and your feet getting a few minutes of a foot bath before your toenails get prepped and painted with gorgeous nail polish.
Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy a traditional pedicure. Some might have certain health conditions that prevent them from getting it, while others may need a higher level of care for more serious issues in their feet and toenails.
If you can relate to these situations, we have good news! There’s an alternative to regular pedicures called a medical pedicure, which makes your feet and toenails look good and keeps them healthy.
In this article, we’re going to share with you everything you need to know about medical pedicures and why you or anyone can actually benefit from this procedure.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is a Medical Pedicure?
- 2 Medical Pedicure vs. Regular Pedicure: What’s the Difference?
- 3 Benefits of a Medical Pedicure
- 4 What To Do Before a Medical Pedicure
- 5 What Happens During a Medical Pedicure?
- 6 What To Do After a Medical Pedicure
- 7 How Much Does a Medical Pedicure Cost?
- 8 Is Medical Pedicure Covered by Insurance?
- 9 Who Are the Best Candidates for a Medical Pedicure?
- 10 Frequently Asked Questions
- 11 Is a Medical Pedicure Worth It?
What Is a Medical Pedicure?
While a typical pedicure can groom your toenails well, it might not be enough to eliminate more serious issues like ingrown ones, corns, calluses, and cracked heels.
This is where a medical-grade pedicure becomes necessary.
A medical pedicure (also called a medi pedicure or a medical pedi) is a non-invasive procedure designed to address those problems. So you can think of it as a clinical pedicure because it does more than a superficial cleanup.
As its name suggests, it uses sterile, medical-grade tools that work more precisely.
If you’ve been getting a regular mani-pedi for years, one thing you’ll miss about it when getting a medical pedicure is the foot soak.
This is because a medi pedicure is waterless due to the fact that it’s designed for customers with open wounds or infections.
Soaking their feet in water for a few minutes might cause further infections or lead to cross-contamination between different clients.
Medical Pedicure vs. Regular Pedicure: What’s the Difference?
The basics of carrying out a medical pedicure and a regular pedicure differ in several ways, mainly in who can perform them and how widely available they are.
Who Can Perform Medical Pedicures?
Your conventional pedicures are done by pedicurists or nail technicians who have completed cosmetology programs or specialized courses.
However, a medical pedicure is done by a podiatrist or a medical pedicurist who has undergone more extensive education and training.
When you go for a med spa pedicure, a podiatrist will likely provide the service. You might know them simply as foot doctors for medical pedicures, but they actually do more than that.
While not the same as medical doctors, podiatrists are also required to complete a bachelor’s degree and accomplish a degree to be called a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).
They also need to earn other certifications and fulfill different requirements.
In some cases, a portion of the medical pedi is conducted by a medical nail technician or MNT who has also received a higher level of training than a nail technician performing regular pedicures.
A medical nail technician may have received training under a podiatrist and is capable of identifying foot and toenail issues.
Where Can You Get a Medical Pedicure?
A medical foot pedicure is not commonly available in regular nail salons because key aspects of the procedure are performed by a healthcare specialist, along with a highly trained technician.
You’ll have to look for a medical spa that offers podiatry pedicure services or check for a podiatrist clinic near you.
Benefits of a Medical Pedicure
With the medi pedicure being a “medical” procedure, you may get the impression that it’s only meant to treat common foot problems.
That’s not necessarily true though, as the benefits of an occasional medical pedicure can be a worthy experience for anyone.
Here are a few of the perks a medical pedicure can offer:
Guaranteed Safety, Sanitation, and Expertise
The fact that a medical pedicure is a clinical version of your regular pedicure means you can expect its practitioners to adhere to stricter safety and sanitation guidelines.
It’s also essential for a medical pedi spa to ensure sterilization of its equipment and location, which should assure you that you’re getting the procedure in a clean environment to avoid cross-contamination.
Additionally, if you have more serious concerns or foot problems, you’ll certainly need the expertise that podiatrists and medical nail technicians can provide.
This is one of the biggest advantages of getting a medical pedicure occasionally.
The experience begins with a full assessment of the condition of your feet, allowing your foot doctor to customize the entire procedure to fit your needs.
This assures you that any underlying foot problems you have will be looked at and addressed during your appointment.
If you look at photos showing the before-and-after results of medical pedicures, you’ll get a better idea of why it can also be considered a therapeutic pedicure.
This is because the “medical” aspect of this type of service makes it therapeutic because it’s exactly designed to tackle existing foot problems like corns, ingrown nails, bunions, and calluses.
While these are often not serious, they can make it painful to walk, especially when you’re wearing any type of footwear.
So a medical pedicure can help improve your level of comfort in your everyday life.
You might miss the heavenly aroma of essential oils surrounding you when you get a regular pedicure, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get pampered when going for a medical pedicure.
As mentioned, podiatrists and nail technicians often work together in a medical pedi appointment.
This means a nail tech will be there to take great care of your nails and cuticles, which is always a part of the procedure.
Even though the atmosphere feels more like being in a doctor’s clinic, you’ll still leave a pedicure session at a medical spa feeling pampered.
Effective Prevention of Future Foot Problems and Invasive Treatments
Do you have to wait until your feet suffer from calluses and other problems before getting a medical pedicure? Absolutely not.
Including a medi pedi in your foot care routine can also be a preventative measure.
Getting a medical pedi once in a while means you’re also giving your feet and nails a deep cleaning. This can provide a huge boost to your hygiene practices, which is where preventative care begins.
A podiatrist or medical nail tech can also help detect fungal infections before they cause severe problems like mycotic nails.
They’re also trained to spot if you’re likely to develop hammertoes that, if not prevented, might require surgery.
Reputable medical spa pedicure providers will also give you helpful aftercare tips and foot care recommendations.
So if you have issues like athlete’s foot, bunions, and ingrown nails, you’ll learn how to manage them and continue treatment at home.
What To Do Before a Medical Pedicure
Going for a medical pedicure means you’ll be working with a podiatrist or a medical pedicurist, so there aren’t many things you have to do to prepare for your appointment.
Nevertheless, here are things you can do before booking an appointment:
- Remove old polish from your nails. You’ll also have to remove artificial nails before your appointment.
- Research the spa or practitioner from whom you’re getting the medical pedicure. Just like when you’re looking for a typical nail spa to visit, you’d benefit from reading through available reviews.
- You can also look up a medical spa’s official website to check out how they conduct medical pedicures and how much their service typically costs.
- If you prefer having your medical pedicure performed by a podiatrist, you can use local directories to find a foot doctor near you. Podiatric medical associations can also provide the same information.
What Happens During a Medical Pedicure?
The entire process of a medical pedicure is what sets it apart from your typical pedicure.
Unlike in a regular nail spa, you won’t be seated next to other customers.
Remember that medical-grade sterilization is a key feature of a medical pedi, so the procedure is typically carried out in a private room that resembles a clinic.
Here are a few things you can expect your nail tech and podiatrist to do during your medical pedicure:
Conduct a Thorough Assessment
When you get a medical pedicure from a podiatrist, expect them to thoroughly assess your feet, toes, nails, and skin. In some cases, you may also be asked about your medical history.
Based on their assessment, they will tailor the entire procedure to address your needs and what issues to be addressed. In other words, the process of getting pedicures from a podiatrist can be different for each client.
Deep Clean, File, and Buff
From there, you’ll be given a deep cleaning pedicure. The process includes common nail grooming methods, such as trimming and filing.
Some medical spas will also apply a nourishing oil on your nail beds, which is common in a regular pedicure.
You’ll get your nail filed, but don’t expect the technician to bring out the regular double-sided nail file.
Instead, expect them to use a medical-grade handheld drill that works more precisely for a smoother nail bed.
They’ll also buff your feet to remove dead skin. While it’s a waterless procedure, your podiatrist or medical nail technician might use a moisturizing spray before they start buffing to ensure a smooth and easy process.
Treat Other Issues
If you have corns, ingrown nails, or blisters that need attention, this is when they’ll be removed. Aside from removing dead skin, your podiatrist will remove calluses or treat cracked heels.
Restore and Reshape Your Nails
In some cases, a medical pedicure might also include some nail restoration work, such as reshaping or bringing back the natural color of your toenails.
Take note that a medical spa pedicure doesn’t typically include a change of nail polish to ensure safety and sanitation.
Since a nail polish bottle is often used on the nails of different customers, it can increase the possibility of spreading infections.
What To Do After a Medical Pedicure
Taking care of your feet and nails mostly happens between your med spa pedicure visits. So, what you do after a medical pedicure is just as important as getting one.
Ask Your Medical Pedicurist
The personalized treatment you experience during a medical pedicure means you can also get aftercare tips that perfectly fit your needs. And you’ll be getting them from podiatrists or highly skilled nail techs.
They will most likely provide you with aftercare tips once your medical pedicure is done. Try your best to remember them all and follow them to prevent recurring foot problems.
You can ask them what footwear to use that will complement your feet and nails’ health.
You can also seek their advice on proper foot care maintenance. Following that routine can help boost the benefits of getting a medical pedicure once every few weeks.
Relax Your Feet for a Few Days
You’re guaranteed to have extra smooth feet after a medical pedicure, which means they’re a little more sensitive. Immediately putting them to vigorous work could lead to blisters, wasting your recently concluded medical pedicure.
Walking and going about your normal activities should be fine. But it may be best to take a rest from extensive running and exercise for the time being.
You’ll have to let your feet rest for about 48 hours after your medi pedicure and follow your medical pedicurist’s aftercare tips.
Don’t Forget To Moisturize
Layers of dead skin will be removed during a medical pedicure through sanding or buffing. Your feet might lose some moisture in the process, so you’ll have to use a foot cream to moisturize them.
How Much Does a Medical Pedicure Cost?
The cost of any personal care service, particularly for nail maintenance, can widely vary based on several factors.
One of these factors can be the location of your podiatrist’s office or your chosen medical pedicure spa.
A medi pedi is provided by podiatric doctors or medical nail technicians who are required to have certifications and undergo an extensive amount of training. These also explain why it’s more expensive than a typical pedicure.
Depending on where you’re getting a medical pedicure, the average cost of one session can be around $45 to $85. In some locations, however, the price could be up to $200.
Special procedures like treatment of ingrown nails or nail restoration might also incur additional costs.
Is Medical Pedicure Covered by Insurance?
The usual services provided during a medical pedicure, especially those done by a medical nail technician, are categorized as cosmetic procedures.
Thus, insurance companies don’t generally cover the cost of a medical pedi.
However, if the technician finds a more serious foot problem requiring a podiatrist’s care, you could get your insurance company to cover its cost.
You can also review your insurance policy or call the medical pedicure spa beforehand to confirm.
Who Are the Best Candidates for a Medical Pedicure?
The truth is medical pedicures can be for anyone who wants to experience them.
Considering its benefits, you can enjoy the advantages of getting a medical pedicure from time to time even though your feet and nails are generally healthy.
On the other hand, patients who deal with chronic health conditions may be advised to minimize (if not completely avoid) their visits to a regular nail salon because they face greater health risks.
Luckily, they can opt for a medical pedicure instead.
People with diabetes are always advised to be cautious when getting manicures and pedicures.
They’re not completely prohibited from visiting a nail salon but face more risks from the common procedures included in a typical pedicure.
For instance, it’s still quite common for a regular pedicure to include cuticle trimming, sometimes leading to accidental cuts.
Diabetics can’t take that risk because wound healing takes a long time for them, making them more susceptible to infections.
To be fair, many nail salons have switched from cuticle nippers to cuticle sticks.
But because the cuticles act as protective barriers, pushing them back instead of trimming doesn’t eliminate the risks of fungi and bacteria infecting the skin and nails.
Medical pedicurists, on the other hand, often refrain from trimming and pushing back the cuticles for maximum safety.
Foot ulcers and nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) are among the most common complications of diabetes.
Several steps in a regular pedicure — warm foot soaks, cuticle cutting, and foot scrubs — can be dangerous for diabetic clients.
Overall, a dry, sterilized, and medical-grade pedicure is the safest option for people with diabetes.
Autoimmune Disease Patients
Many symptoms of various autoimmune conditions cause problems in the skin and nails.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis can experience nail deformation, discoloration, and frequent joint stiffness.
Arthritic patients can still enjoy the conventional mani-pedi, which can still be a relaxing experience.
But they’ll benefit more from having medical pedicurists work on their nails, which have likely gone through significant changes due to their autoimmune condition.
The medical-grade sanitation and sterilization of medical pedi equipment and rooms also help greatly minimize risks of infections for patients with autoimmune diseases like arthritis.
When someone is immunocompromised, their immune system is much weaker and doesn’t function as well as it should against infections.
Diabetes and other chronic illnesses can drastically weaken a person’s immune system.
Patients getting cancer treatments or those who went through an organ transplant can face the same health problems.
Simply put, they need to avoid situations where they can contract infections as much as possible.
The medical-grade sanitation standards for medi pedicures are perfect for allowing them to keep their nails looking good without being exposed to an unsterile environment and equipment.
Runners, Dancers, and Athletes
Even healthy individuals can benefit from regular medical pedicures, especially if their lifestyle and profession subject their feet to more work and trauma than most people.
Athletes, avid runners, and dancers (especially those who do ballet) all go through rigorous training programs.
Their daily activities, even when not competing, make them more likely to develop blisters and calluses, even when wearing the appropriate footwear.
Blisters can obviously make it more difficult for these individuals to perform at their best. When not treated properly, blisters are open wounds that could also lead to infections.
Always moving and being up on their feet most times also mean they are more prone to getting thicker calluses, which can be unpleasant to look at.
More importantly, bigger callus formations can be extremely painful and adversely affect their performance.
You might also experience nail injuries more frequently, and if they’re not treated properly, they could lead to recurring ingrown nails that can make running (or even walking) painful.
So it’s best to have a medical-grade pedicure, where these common foot problems can be properly treated with much less risk of getting infections.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does a Medical Pedicure Last?
A medical pedicure usually lasts 45 to 60 minutes. The service can take as long as 90 minutes though, especially if your feet require more care to remove calluses and dead skin and treat cracked heels.
More complex procedures, such as removing ingrown toenails or restoring your nails’ shape and color, can also affect how long your medical pedicure appointment will go.
How Often Do I Have To Get a Medical Pedicure?
Depending on the condition of your feet and nails, experts recommend getting a medical pedicure once every 3 to 6 months.
That’s good news if you’re a little concerned about its cost because, let’s face it, it’s way more expensive than a typical pedicure.
However, you might need to get a medical pedicure done more often if your foot problems need more care. Your medical pedicurist might ask you to return once a month or every six weeks.
This will also allow them to monitor if your treatment plan is working or if it needs to be adjusted.
Can I Ask My Medical Pedicurist To Apply Nail Polish?
It depends. Medical pedicures can provide aesthetic care, especially for clients suffering from nail deformation or discoloration. But the priority remains to be the overall health of your feet and nails.
Most places that offer medical pedicures don’t stock up on nail polish or include applying nail polish in their services.
Some medical pedicure spas might accommodate your request, especially if there’s still time left in your appointment.
Depending on the health of your toenails, the technician might agree to apply polish on your toenails. You’ll likely have to bring your nail polish to avoid cross-contamination.
It’s worth noting that most medical pedicure providers promote bare toenails and warn you about nail polish filled with harmful chemicals.
It’s best to call them first and ask about nail polish application after your medical pedicure.
Can I Apply Nail Polish at Home After a Medical Pedicure?
Some medical pedicure providers specifically do not allow nail polish application at their spas.
If having some color on your toenails is important for you, don’t forget to ask your technician about it as well.
Generally, as long as your nails are healthy enough, it should be safe to apply nail polish after a medical pedicure.
However, remember to read the label of your nail polish, even the ones labeled “non-toxic.”
Make sure that it doesn’t include harmful chemicals, especially the three toxic substances formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, and toluene.
Another way to find safer options is to look for the labels 3-free, 7-free, or 10-free. These mean the product is formulated without the three, seven, or 10 known harmful or controversial chemicals used on older nail polish formulas.
Some nail polish brands like Dr.’s Remedy are also advertised as formulated by podiatrists. Their nail polish variants contain nourishing ingredients, such as tea tree oil, biotin, and wheat protein.
Can Pregnant Women Get a Pedicure?
Yes! Pregnant women have nothing to worry about, whether it’s a medical pedicure or a regular pedicure. They might even benefit more from the aseptic nature of a medical pedi.
They don’t have to skip the nail polish either. There have been claims that applying nail polish can harm expecting mothers and fetuses, but experts have pointed out the lack of scientific evidence to support those.
Like everyone else though, they should also opt for safer nail polish options.
Is a Medical Pedicure Worth It?
A medical pedicure will indeed cost tens of dollars more than your visit to a typical nail salon. However, the fact that you’ll need it done less often offsets its higher price point.
If you’re someone who occasionally struggles with ingrown toenails, calluses, corns, and other foot problems, a medical pedicure may be a necessity.
All the benefits you get from a medical pedicure, which you cannot get from a regular pedi, make it even more worth it.
The level of care you’ll get in every session justifies its cost.
Additionally, what makes it a highly valuable experience is the assurance that you’re getting an extremely safe, germ-free procedure without worrying about unsanitized tools, cross-contamination, and water-borne infections.
You don’t have to wait for the worst before getting a medical pedicure appointment.
If you have the budget for it, we recommend that you consider making it a part of your foot and nail care routine.