Aesthetic treatments like Botox, fillers, peels, and lasers get more popular every year – last year more than $1 billion was spent on injectables in the US, and the number of Botox injections given each year increased by 36 per cent between 2014 and 2018.
These days, more people are heading to medispas—rather than doctors’ offices—to get their jabs and zaps. Why? Because the best ones offer all the expertise of the clinic with all the luxuries of the day spa.
There isn’t a protected definition of a medispa. Dr Amanda Lau, medical director of Vancouver’s Skinfolio, says things are, “a bit of a wild west – regulations haven’t caught up to how the field has evolved. There are spas that market themselves as medispas but don’t have a physician – maybe someone who comes in occasionally to do injections, but no one on staff who is accountable.”
It’s not just about safety. Doctor-supervised spas also offer more treatments. “They can provide a variety of invasive and non-invasive procedures based on the concerns of the client, and can offer the very best and state-of-the-art technologies along with the optimal depth and concentrations of the various treatments,” explains Dr Marc DuPéré, Royal College Certified Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon and medical director of Visage Clinic Toronto.
At his clinic, you can get plastic-surgery treatments like breast lifts and pec implants, plus non-invasive treatments (sometimes called tweakments) like Botox, lasers, fillers, and Vampire Lifts. These are carried out in day-spa-like conditions, explains Visage Clinic’s medical aesthetician, Gabriela Madrid. “We offer ultimate relaxation with aromatherapy, customized music, French linen and outstanding Japanese and Paris skincare treatments, plus French Yves Delorme bathrobes, detox Ksumi teas and fresh raspberries,” she says.
Similarly, in Quebec, there’s Victoria Park Medispa, which has eight locations, all supervised by dermatologists and plastic surgeons. Its president, Jeff Hart, says its great advantage is the sheer number of services it offers, including multiple options to treat pigmentation and skin tightening. Right now, body treatments are a particular favourite. “People are loving the combined results of CoolSculpting, which freezes away your fat, or classic treatments that tighten skin, and our new Emsculpt treatment that increases muscle mass while burning fat,” says Hart.
Most medispas spring out of clinics, but sometimes—it happens the opposite way. Hammam Spa, one of Toronto’s best-loved pampering locations, has just opened Hammam Medical Aesthetics, helmed by plastic surgeon Dr Sean Rice. “Moving into medical spa services is a natural progression for me as part of incorporating and celebrating beauty practices from around the world,” says Celine Tadrissi, the Hammam founder who is also the brains behind Cela Skin Care.
Meanwhile in BC, things are getting really innovative. In spring 2019, Fig Facial Bar opened, billed as the world’s first doctor-led facial and injections bar. The focus there is on clean beauty and wellness, and treatments are accompanied by a meditation track.
Vancouver’s newest venture is Skinfolio, described as Canada’s first walk-in medispa and located inside North Vancouver’s Park Royal mall. Medical facials including IPL, liquid infusions and some lasers can often be done without appointments, while for Botox, fillers and body contouring (all delivered by a doctor), you might need to wait a few days. An initial consultation and first liquid, light, or laser facial is always free, and there’s also a membership system.
“When we designed the concept, we wanted people to get value and flexibility,” says Dr Lau. “It’s all about increasing accessibility to these kind of services and removing barriers. Medical aesthetics shouldn’t be about finding new budget to achieve your goals – it’s using the dollars you were spending on your regular skincare in this direction, and getting improved results. We don’t want to be that spa where you’re there for an hour but the effective treatment is only 15 minutes – you end up paying triple the price for all the frills.” That said, the experience doesn’t feel cheap or rushed, thanks to welcoming service and little touches like makeup application post-treatment.
The secrecy around tweakments is evaporating. “Where treatments used to be something clients kept private, we see them increasingly sharing their results with friends and family in person and online,” says Hart. Dr Lau agrees. “ You certainly see that younger people – millennials – are much more open about having treatments done. We have clients in their 20s or early 30s who are just starting to see the beginning of dynamic lines. This makes sense with this new idea about aesthetic treatments, where you see them as maintenance more than correction.”
What about the current backlash against the idea of anti-aging – the concept of age-positivity that says we shouldn’t look at our wrinkles and dark spots as flaws? Dr DuPéré says: “Optimizing one’s skin is never out of fashion – your skin is the best outfit you can wear.” But the look people are going for has changed. “It’s, ‘Au Naturel’ as the French women would say. Our ladies want to wear less make-up nowadays so having better skin is much more important today.”
Dr Lau agrees. “People want to look like themselves but fresher – they’re not here to look younger,” she says. “We don’t really talk about anti-aging and we certainly won’t tell you that we can make you look 20 years younger. I love the way I look, and I’ve earned the wrinkles I have. The goal is to look rested, brighter, less tired, like you’ve been on a long vacation. Aging is a beautiful thing, the sign of a life well lived.”
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