Recently I wrote about my face related fact-finding mission with ICLS Dermatology and Plastic Surgery, a premiere medspa and plastic surgery clinic in Oakville, Ontario. Since Zoom meetings were now a permanent part of life, and with the added wrinkle (see what I did there) of masks coming off, I was focused on what I perceived to be my “aging face” more than ever.
As I described in my first article, my first consultation with Nurse Practitioner Kelli Mraud from ICLS was virtual. Along with learning about the various treatment options ICLS had to offer, I learned that general phenomena of facial aging tend to fall into one of three distinct categories: “Sinker”, “Sagger”, or “Wrinkler”. A “Sinker” is identified by volume loss, leading to a more sunken in look, especially around the temples, the middle of the face, and below the cheekbones, due to fat loss from aging or even weight loss. A “Sagger” will experience loss of skin elasticity due to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, leaving gravity to do its worst. A “Wrinkler” will have specific areas of the face where repetitive, small movements, such as squinting or frowning, will lead to fine to deepening lines, or wrinkles, forming in the skin. Each of these aging types had their own types of treatment to tackle them.
As it turned out, I existed between the worlds of sagging and wrinkling, and some injectables were just what the nurse ordered. So it was time for me to make my way to Oakville, to meet Kelli and the team from ICLS in the flesh. (Please note this review will contain videos of the treatments so please skip them if you’re squeamish!)
Stepping into the clinic
As my first contact with ICLS was virtual, when I went in for my first appointment with Kelli, it was my very first time stepping into the clinic. I had the pleasure of attention a media tour of the ICLS facilities, meeting the entire leadership team as well as the incredible Kelli in person (FINALLY!) and getting a glimpse into the different operating and treatment rooms, and I was incredibly impressed by the knowledge, dedication and talent contained within the walls of the clinic.
After the tour, I was taken into my very own treatment room with Kelli, to receive my first Botox treatment.
Fixing Fine Lines – Time for Botox
My first treatment with ICLS focused on prevention and smoothing of deepening lines on my forehead and around my eyes, or “crowsfeet” for the wrinkling aspect of my aging concerns. Botox is a neurotoxin used to offset repetitive facial movements, otherwise known as dynamic lines.
Kelli employed the “M” method for botox placement. Developed by Dr. Maurico de Maio, the renowned Brazilian plastic surgeon, the method utilizes an M pattern around the eyes and forehead for optimal Botox placement. This pattern of dosing uses 12 units in the crowsfeet, 20 units in the 11’s, or the lines between your eyebrows, and 20 units in the forehead up towards the hairline. Kelli prefers this method because of its predictable results based on research and experience, and who was I to argue with an expert.
The Botox process was virtually painless, and the treatment passed incredibly quickly. Conducted with a small needle, the treatment felt like a small series of pin pricks, that I truly barely felt. Kelli was judicious and strategic with her placement, leading to several injections, but she was also incredibly gentle and quick as she worked. All in all, the Botox treatment was quick, comfortable and even enjoyable thanks to Kelli’s skill and superb bedside manner.
After the procedure was complete, Kelli advised that I should avoid any strenuous exercise or activity for the day, but otherwise there is no downtime for Botox injections. It’s important to listen to your body, especially after your very first treatment. I found I needed to sit and relax for a few moments after my first Botox treatment, but that has dissipated since. The results take a little bit of time to become apparent, but once they did, I noticed how smooth my forehead and eye area became, almost as if all my expression lines had melted away. I still had movement and expression in my face, which was the goal. From there, Kelli had advised that the treatment should last for several months before gradually wearing off.
The Follow Up
A couple of weeks later, I was booked into an online follow up with Kelli. Having had Botox before, but never provided with the follow up, I was pleasantly surprised, and impressed. The purpose of the follow up, which took place conveniently online, was to survey my post-treatment face. Kelli explained that she would look at how my face was animating as we conversed. The movement and smoothness achieved would indicate how well my muscles took Kelli’s placement of the Botox. Kelli also took note of the evening out of my brows, as one was higher than the other before the treatment. From there, Kelli was able to begin planning for our next IRL session together, which would be all about filler.
PHASE 2: Finding that fullness again with Filler
A few weeks after my first injectables experience with Botox, I returned to ICLS to have Kelli treat my other area of concern: the sagging I saw around my nose, cheeks and jawline.
Filler, according to Kelli, is used to restore volume and fullness, in areas of the face where loss of bone and fat occur, as we gain or lose weight and age. At a high level, filler is made up of hyaluronic acid, a natural component found in the skin. HA retains waters like a sponge, helping to keep the skin soft and firm. When used in aesthetic medicine, hyaluronic acid comes in the form of a gel. A practitioner like Kelli has an arsenal of hyaluronic acid types, depending on the area she is working on. “It’s about small amounts in strategic places” Kelli shared as she examined my face.
After taking a long look at my face, Kelli decided that she would inject me at the temples, below the eyes, near my cheekbones, and between my lips and chin. For the areas she chose to work on, Kelli selected a type of filler called Teosyal filler, a Resilient Hyaluronic Acid filler (RHA) specifically designed to respect facial dynamics. In order to naturally integrate into facial structures, a HA filler must be able resist pressure and seamlessly follow facial movements. Similar to the Botox experience, the goal of the results are to be comfortable and to look natural, so this type of filler is just what the expert ordered. These fillers also contained an anaesthetic, making the injections more comfortable to experience.
According to Kelli, it’s all about small amounts in strategic places, and taking the non-obvious route to achieve to the desired results. “Where you see the problem is rarely where you put the needle” says Kelli. Instead, you consider facial anatomy, and how it all works together when considering filler placement. She also advised that a filler treatment usually required 2-3 sessions, especially the first time around, to see how the face settles and heals from the first injections.
Kelli began both of our filler sessions with a generous application of numbing cream. She layered the cream everywhere she planned on inserting a needle or cannula (a thin tube Kelli would use to manoeuvre the filler where it needed to go, safely and accurately).
After giving the numbing cream time to take effect, Kelli began the filler treatment. She used her tools with a strategy of adding structure back to my face first. Then, she would go back and add volume where required, restoring volume and plumpness as needed. Kelli would employ the cannula to avoid potentially sensitive areas in the face, and providing extra mobility around arteries or veins. She would specifically use this tool for my tear trough (the area below the eyes), my chin, and parts of my cheeks.
Kelli would also utilize the syringe for direct filler placement, specifically in the temples, parts of the cheeks, and the lips. These injections were quicker and less painful than with the cannula.
I won’t sugar coat it – filler injections can be painful but, at least in my experience, the pain is minimal, fleeting and WELL worth the results. Not all areas of the face felt the same; for me, the lips were the most tender and sensitive area, even with numbing cream. Aside from that area, the experience of just the syringe was not all that different from the Botox procedure. The combination of the syringe and cannula, for the filler placement in my cheeks, was probably the least comfortable part of the whole experience, but even then it was over in moments. And all in all, Kelli was patient, accommodating, and always as gentle as she could be. I was definitely in the best hands for a first filler experience.
Like with Botox, there is no real downtime after receiving hylaronic acid injections. Kelli advised that I would experience some minor swelling and bruising at the injection sites, which turned out to be very minor. As well, she advised that I shouldn’t sleep on my stomach or drink from a straw (for lip filler) for 2 weeks. I was also advised not to use any skin tools, like guasha or jade rollers, or undergo any other medical cosmetic, or dental procedures for 6 weeks after the injections, to ensure everything could settle and heal without impediment or interference.
The Follow Up
After giving my face 2 weeks to settle, Kelli added some small amounts of filler for balance and symmetry, and to take after photos of the treatment.
At ICLS, Botox will cost roughly $12 a unit. A standard treatment will include on average 60 units. Dysport is another brand used at ICLS and other med spas, and may be a little less expensive with comparable results to Botox.
Filler, made from hyaluronic acid, like the RHA Kelli used on me, will cost anywhere from $1200 to $2400 for the amount used to achieve the type of results I was seeking. Generally, you may see filler priced by the “syringe” at different cosmetic medicine clinics and spas, and while that is a measurement used within the industry, it’s best to discuss the results you are seeking, then have the practitioner determine the amount to use to achieve those results.
One of the loveliest aspects of my ICLS experience was the care and consideration taken with ensuring my results were perfect, and that the journey to perfection was comfortable as well as effective. Kelli, as kind, diligent and detail oriented as ever, made the experiences as painless as possible, and far more pleasant than I could have imagined.
My biggest worry when embarking on this journey was that I would look, and feel, fake. It has long been the stereotype when it comes to cosmetic medicine: puffy, taut, frozen faces on women like the stars of the innumerable real housewives franchises. And while I don’t judge or begrudge any woman for working what works for her, those weren’t the results I was looking for.
When I first began this journey with ICLS, my end goal was to regain confidence, and to feel like, when I looked in the mirror, that I was looking at myself again. The results I dreamt of were not seeing a new, perfect face in front of me, but to look and feel like a refreshed, more youthful looking version of myself.
And that’s exactly what I got.
It may sound corny, but I am in love with my results. Thanks to Kelli and her incredible experience and expertise, I look like me, but just a younger, more rested version of me. Perfectly natural, not at all fake, and exactly what I have been wishing for. Even these photos are barely retouched, and I’m wearing minimal foundation and concealer to show the true impact of my results with ICLS.
Now, whenever I do a zoom call, or catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, instead of frowning, I smile. Even in my after pictures, I struggled to hold a neutral face – all I wanted to do was smile! Smile at the face I remembered, when life was less complicated, when I was less grown up, and when fun and the pursuit of happiness was all that mattered. Now, I’m hoping I can recapture that feeling, along with my fleeting youth.
At least, for the next six to twelve months (which is about how long I can expect my results to last.)
If you live in the Greater Toronto area and are considering anti-aging treatments like injectables, and beyond, do not hesitate to reach out to ICLS. I was absolutely blown away by my experience with them, from their kindness and compassion to their expertise and knowledge. For a first timer it was a wonderful place to undergo these treatments, and I highly recommend this wonderful team to everyone. Check out their website and social media below.
*ICLS clinic photos by Nick Wons
*All other photos and videos by Sarah Wright from Yes, And Studio
Note: This experience was part of review of ICLS Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Clinic and their services. My treatments were gifted as part of this review.