“She looks amazing!”
“Like she’s just come back from vacation!”
“I wonder what she’s had done….”
“Have YOU had anything done?”
The older I get, I find myself having many conversations like this one. It’s a topic that comes up with more and frequency. I’m talking about that “next level self-care”; cosmetic medicine.
Cosmetic, or aesthetic medicine can be simply understood as the level past skincare, and what you can do around taking care of your face and body at home. Aesthetic medicine can include less invasive methods of cosmetic enhancements from Botox (to reduce muscle movement and prevent wrinkles) to fillers (used to replace lost fat and volume in the face), to use of technology like lasers, skin tightening, and radiofrequencies. It can also refer to surgical procedures like facelifts, breast augmentation and liposuction. No matter what level one may take it to, cosmetic medicine is something more and more people of all ages and life stages are embracing as part of their personal care priorities.
The increasing regularity of these discussions between myself and my 30 and 40 something girlfriends made me realize that aging is not only something we’re all experiencing in our own different ways, but its mitigation is something we’re all incredibly curious about as well. It’s not unlike our teen years, when we were all comparing notes around our budding skincare and cosmetic curiousities. But now that we’re older, wiser, with more discernment and disposable income, we’re undergoing a new set of physical changes, and we’re just as curious about the tools we can use as we were in our youth. So I’m taking this opportunity to ask those questions loudly and proudly, and seek out some answers to share with my probing peers. And it couldn’t be timelier.
I turned 40 in 2020. The marking of that decade, while auspicious, was also something I dreaded. It was my “scary” age, and while I’ve never been afraid of aging, I never thought about how seeing the signs of it right on my face would affect me. It’s also been a year of staring at myself in my telephone and computer screens, every photo, every selfie, every meeting a reminder that my face, while still mine, was changing, right before my eyes.
I knew I wasn’t the only one scrutinizing every inch of my appearance in every screen or surface. I also knew someone in my network who could help me figure out what my options were. I was directed to ICLS Dermatology and Plastic Surgery. Based in Oakville, Ontario, and founded by Drs Julie Khanna and Dr. Sheetal Sapra, ICLS has been helping people look and feel their best for 25 years now, which was beyond reassuring to me as I embark on this new self care journey.
I was set up with an incredible virtual consultation experience to help me learn about all my options when it comes to, as I’ve been calling it, “fixing my face”. She connected me to Spa Nurse Manager Kelli Mraud, who guided me through the ICSL Virtual consultation process.
Why a consultation?
When I say “fix my face” of course I am being facetious. My face is mine and I love it, and no matter what, I still want to look like me, just a younger, less stressed, better rested me Learning about my anti-aging goals, and being able to articulate and express them to an expert, is exactly why a consultation is so important before embarking on any journey when it comes to higher level skincare and cosmetic procedures. Using their virtual consultation method, Kelli was not only able to talk to me openly and privately about my concerns but she was able to actually see me and analyze my face and skin, without me ever having to leave the safety of my own home.
How does the consultation take place?
ICLS has created an easy to navigate virtual consultation process through a much more luxurious and elegant platform than your average virtual meeting space. From the beautifully decorated online waiting room, to the soft lighting and softer filtered screens, I felt much more relaxed than in any other Zoom meeting I’ve participated in. Prior to the consultation, I was also asked to send Kelli multiple photos of my face from all different angles, so she had the benefit of both me in front of her virtually, and still photos to examine to help give me the best answers and possible solutions around my anti-aging journey with her.
Further Facial Analysis
Kelli began with going through my medical chart, to ensure I had no medical concerns that could clash with my care plan. From there, Kelli took me through a fairly comprehensive and fascinatingly scientific analysis of my face, the aging process, and the tools at the clinic’s disposal. One important factor Kelli made sure to go over with me was facial symmetry, or more accurately, facial asymmetry. Everyone has some natural asymmetry in their faces and bodies. For instance, our eyebrows are usually more like sisters than identical twins, or we may have certain beauty marks or scars on one side of our faces and not the other. When spending so much time focusing on our faces, having those realizations before undertaking any procedures, and before so much scrutiny is placed on the face, helps the process go smoothly.
Starting at home
After examining my photos and then my face through the consultation portal, Kelli began going through her recommendations for helping me achieve my “youthful and well rested” appearance objective, in the simplest and least invasive way possible; with skincare!
Kelli emphasized the importance of working from the outside in when it comes to a facial rejuvenation plan: “we need to clean the house, and then decorate it!” We went through my existing skincare routine, with Kelli asking me about the products I currently use, assessing each one to ensure it’s meeting my needs and goals, as well as making recommendations and providing guidance on changes I should make and new techniques and products to adopt. ICLS has their own in house skincare shop with the latest and greatest products, and many that you can’t purchase anywhere else. The ICLS Skin Store selection is carefully curated to compliment the treatments and procedures offered at the clinic. From custom products created with Universkin, to personalized serums from Skinceuticals, to medical grade products from Vivier, to accessible products from Cerave and LaRoche Posay, the Skin Store has the skincare solution for each and every client. And shipping is free during the pandemic!
When it came to my personal skincare concerns, Kelli advised that I incorporate Vitamin C into my routine, for its brightening properties, ideally in the form of a serum for maximum potency. A broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 was also a must, and something that was already a part of my daily routine. She also recommended regular exfoliation, chemical (like Retinol) or physical (like a scrub), another step I already embrace in my skincare regime. I’ve upped my skincare game since our consultation, in anticipation of the next step.
Stepping into the clinic
One of the goals of the consultation was for Kelli to help set me up with the tools for success at home. Getting my skincare routine to an optimal level was something I could focus and work on myself, and a way to lay the foundation for the next level, when I would finally walk through the doors of the ICLS clinic. And even then, Kelli will continue with her less is more approach, beginning with Botox to address my aging woes.
By injecting Botox or a similar agent into certain facial muscles, like the forehead for instance, repetitive moments ban be reduced, helping to prevent the formation of wrinkles and treat existing lines. Note, it’s about preventing and reducing movement, not eliminating it: there are no frozen faces walking out of ICLS. Kelli explained that even if we’re not actively frowning or moving our faces, the muscles are engaged in general. Removing that muscular tension helps to smooth out the skin, leading to a more rested and relaxed appearance. And while wrinkles and facial lines may not be a big concern for me now, Kelli reminded me that Botox is meant to be preventative. If I were to wait until my wrinkles were deeper or more noticeable, more Botox can be required to relax the muscles, and filler to raise the skin to a point of smoothness. But, Kelli mentioned, she would consider filler to address my other concern: loss of volume.
I never understood the concept of Marionette lines, until they appeared on my own face. Thanks to a loss of volume in and around my cheeks and cheek bone area, I could see lines forming on either side of my mouth, starting from around my nose. While my cheekbones were once plump and full, they have lost that fullness, leading to an overall droop to my face. While I once believed that flattening was only caused by fat and collagen loss, according to Kelli, bone density also decreases as we age, contributing to volume loss in the cheekbone and jaw areas. “We just don’t have the platform to support our face,” she said. By using a filler like Hyaluronic acid, Kelli can go about mimicking the placement of the bone, and rebuilding the architecture of the face to recapture my facial features of the past.
Setting realistic goals
I think what I loved most about my consultation with Kelli and ICLS is the knowledge she brought to the table that really helped ground me in my expectations and ideas around this new level of self care. I went in with very few expectations, but I definitely had an idea of what I was hoping to achieve, and Kelli worked with me to make a plan that will help me on that journey. While I still may be a little nervous about trying new treatments and procedures, I know that I’m in the best hands with ICLS. I can’t wait to see what we can do when we can finally get together in person. Until then, you know I’ll be washing my face every night and wearing my sunscreen every day.