What to know before being treated at a Drip Spa

What started as a quick fix for a bad hangover has become the latest health fad, but are they safe or even worth the money?

Drip Spas promise you the chance to take your health into your own hands.

With the quick prick of a needle, you can get vitamins, medication and hydrate all on your lunch break, but is it all too good to be true?

Once a week, Jennica Wilson sits down at Thrive Drip Spa. Her IV bag contains a mix of vitamins and medicine to fight the side effects of her chemo treatments.

"So I do get the B-12 shot that helps with the energy but they also have Zofran here, which a lot of people don't know. Most people don't need it, it's for nausea and they put it right here with extra vitamins," Wilson said.

There is a lot of criticism by medical professionals who note Drip Spas are loosely regulated and rules can vary by state.

Wilson says, because of her pancreatic cancer, she lives with aching bone pain and nausea, but the pain eased by her IV therapy. She says she talked with her doctors and they encouraged her to try the IV therapy.

"This place is more relaxing. It's more like a spa experience but I still feel like the nurses know what they are doing," Wilson said.

On their drip menu, Thrive Drip Spa off the Southwest Freeway promises drips that maximize health, performance recovery and wellness.

They say multi-vitamin bags are recommended for athletes' recovery, even noting several Houston area professional athletes have visited the spa. Thrive says their basic hydrate drip is equivalent to drinking two gallons of water. They also offer a beauty drip, detox drip and even a migraine drip, among others.

"The IV hydration spots first started as hangover clinics, but that's really only about 1/6th of our business," Eugene Lou said.

Co-Founder and CEO Eugene Lou is an orthopedic surgeon outside of the spa, and his brother is the medical director and a plastic surgeon. He said working on Memorial Herman's life light team for five years is when he realized the importance of IV's. At Thrive, Lou says his spa is not a typical drip-lounge, the staff are all registered nurses, and they use the same supplies as the hospitals.

"Never thought that it was something we could bring to the public and allow people to get access to without having to go to a hospital or clinic and wait hours in line and then get charged thousands of dollars for," Lou said.

At spa prices, membership starts with the select package at $80 a month, $140 for the premium and $240 a month for the Luxe.

Health enthusiast Ces Guerra works out five to six times a week and says recovery is important.

"I've tried various things, protein drinks and shakes, and multiple vitamins and I do drink the electrolytes but having the IV drip process has just been a game-changer for me," Guerra said.

Wilson, she says her weekly trip to the spa has helped her bounce back from her chemotherapy.

"This place is more relaxing. It's more like a spa experience but I still feel like the nurses know what they are doing," Wilson said.

Medical critics warn IV therapy is a waste of money and can be potentially dangerous. In Texas, IV therapy is considered a nonsurgical medical cosmetic procedure As such, this limits the ownership of an IV Bar to only a select number of licensed medical providers.

Texas also requires IV's are administered by board-certified nurses, but without being closely regulated Lou says some locations may hire phlebotomist instead of nurses. Technicians only trained to draw blood with no medical license to administer medication.

Lou says 3 Questions to ask before being treated at any drip spa:

1. Who is administering the needle?

2. Do you have a medical director?

3. Are there reviews or testimony from people who have gone before?

IV's solutions can contain a lot of salt which can be dangerous to someone with heart disease or high blood pressure. No matter who you are, it's important to talk with your personal doctor before going to a drip spa.

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